For seventeen long years Congo Natty remained absent from Amsterdam. For true ‘junglists’ within the city, his presence was sorely missed. But, thanks to the event organisers BamBam, the ‘Conquering Lion’ returned… and what a return it was! The queue outside Melkweg, stretched out all around the block and the anticipation was rife.
‘Jungle Revolution’ came out last year and was Natty’s sensational comeback album, as it re-established British Rasta jungle on the map. Since the late eighties, he has consistently pushed musical boundaries and reinvigorated reggae for a new generation. The new album provides an exciting sound that mêlées the original 90s jungle with drifts and drives of dub-step, dub and roots reggae; it was not surprising then that the Congo Natty family had attracted a diverse and devoted crowd.
After an energetic warm up set, the 2am kick off point hailed Congo Natty to the stage. Taking a central position behind the decks, Natty began the show with a tribute to the legendary Bob Marley. After hyping up the crowd, Natty took centre stage and invited the audience to put their lighters up in the air in memory of Marley, to which they played the slow and sombre “Redemption song”…then he said ‘If you love Bob, make some noise and sing along. One love.’ With a warm feeling of collectiveness within the audience, it was a fitting atmosphere; it was Marley’s sixty-ninth birthday.
Utilising peaks and troughs, they got everyone going with the more upbeat ‘Get up Stand up’. After ‘Could You Be Loved,’ Natty made a special condolence and tribute to Mark Duggan. Duggan was killed by the police in Natty’s hometown of Tottenham in 2011 – often seen as the spark for the 2011 London Riots. The words ‘Fuck the police. Rest in peace’ were spoken in memory.
In many ways, Pheobe and Nancy, the two female MCs of the Congo Natty Family, stole the show; their soft but seductive melodies on ‘Jungle Souljah’ were spectacular. The same should be said for the dark, yet touching choruses on ‘Revolution’. Credit must be given where it is due. The male MC Mr. Multiplex and an unknown MC rapped superbly and got the crowd hyped and jumping.
Natty’s set was eclectic, mixing up old classics like Richie Spice’s ‘Youth Dem Cold’ and Top Cat’s ‘Police & Helicopter’ with great songs from his new album such as ‘Jah Warriors’ and ‘Rebel’. My favourite, however, was ‘UK Allstars’ with its heavy drum and bass feel, combined with a dirty synth. Nearing the last quarter of the show Natty, also known as Rebel MC, spoke directly to the audience: ‘I came to Amsterdam as a boy and I loved it. It’s an honour to be at the Milkyway a man. We’re stepping into Babylon.’
This was followed by the crescendo of the night, the electrically progressive ‘Get Ready’ with a stellar mix of sub-bass beats and intense drumming breaks. The song played for a whole fifteen minutes and even then the crowd seemed eager for more. My only criticism of the night was that Congo Natty himself seemed slightly reserved. At times, he appeared lost behind the decks and had to be helped out. But this is a minor criticism. As a collective the Congo Natty family smashed it. They showed Amsterdam that British rasta jungle is well and truly alive.
Once again, thanks to BamBam for bringing the legend Congo Natty back to Amsterdam. Check their page here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/BAM-BAM-Amsterdam/264381773631321?fref=ts
Photos by Marian Genet.
See more at http://mariangenet.blogspot.nl