The Belgrave Music Hall is a swanky, hip venue, hidden away near the Merrion Centre and seemingly one of Leeds’ best kept secrets, with an upstairs music venue and a downstairs bar. The music venue is an open space, with no boundaries to the stage: we were so close that we were almost on stage with Natty.
Natty was engaging, playful and passionate, mixing familiar reggae beats with more modern guitar and vocal sounds. He got the audience excited with the reggae inspired guitar riffs of his ‘rebel ship’ band, which seemed to be hailing Natty onto the stage. His band was trendy and talented, creating an aura of passionate musicality and strong stage presence while we awaited the King of the stage, Natty himself. Once on the stage, he sang all of his most popular tunes, and some new ones too, also apologising for being away from the music scene for awhile. The audience was full of fans, who knew the words to all his songs, especially ‘Bedroom Eyes’, and were screaming for more. We were swaying back and forth to the rhythmic ‘Rebel Ship’ and Natty’s enticing reggae vocals, hoping it would never end and he would take us “back to Africa” with him.
Natty had many words of wisdom, from love to racism, Africa to London, questioning “why would I want to fall in love, when I could stand in love?”. He also had much to say about race, stating that we are all the same (and he is quite right), which inspired his song with the chorus, “we’re all just coloured souls.” It was almost as though he was a moral and spiritual preacher, letting us in on his knowledge of the world.
The gig was lively and upbeat, and probably the best one I’ve been to since I came to Leeds in September.
Words: Fiona McDowall