Dispatch kick out the jams at rare UK concert
The animated TV show South Park once ran an episode about a giant hippie jam festival spreading uncontrollably and taking over the town, prompting an Armageddon-like rescue mission. If such a festival were to actually occur in real life, there’s a good chance that Boston three-piece Dispatch would be headlining, having established themselves as one of the jammiest jam-bands out there, with a rabid fan-base to boot. Fortunately, dystopic premonitions of endless bongo solos and forgettable MOR rock were soon dispelled at this Koko show, only the band’s third gig on UK soil following their reformation last year.
The opening one-two of new material – recent single Not Messin‘ and comeback track Melon Blend – caught fair-weather fans unaware with pained, minor-key vocals and a bracing blast of guitar that built up to almost cataclysmic levels; a far cry from the docile reggae of the band’s 1996 début. It was followed by the title track of new album Circles Round The Sun, which seemed to hint at a more abrasive, edgy sound for the band. Old habits die hard, however, and when guitarists Chad Urmston and Pete Heimbold swapped instruments and vocal duties, momentum was lost in a barrage of unremarkable grooves and solos which let up only briefly, to allow the hardcore devotees a sing-along to old favourite Two Coins.
Dispatch certainly meant well though, and it was hard to pick fault with the band’s obvious camaraderie. All three members were given equal billing, with drummer Brad Corrigan in particular getting to show off his many talents – constantly harmonising, taking the lead on an acoustic Prince Of Spades, busting out some harmonica and even beat-boxing while sat behind the drums, which seemed impressive if a little redundant. All was forgiven when they wheeled out their signature hit, The General, one of the most ecstatically-received songs Koko is ever likely to witness (a toast to Tom Daley and Andy Murray didn’t hurt either).
Bongos and acoustic guitars did indeed make an appearance for the encore, prompting worried glances all round, but the ensuing ten-minute jam through Elias was a surprisingly brilliant communal moment, with the entire audience clapping, cheering and somehow singing along in perfect Zimbabwean on cue. It seemed like the perfect show-stopper, and most of the crowd had started to shuffle towards the exit when the band reappeared, grinning from ear to ear and breaking into impromptu handstands, to see us home with a fun version of Flying Horses, with the house lights up. It was an endearing end to a hard-fought but ultimately rewarding gig by the US jam-meisters.
Photos: Helen Parish
Listen to The General by Dispatch here:
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