The UK duo SSHH took the stage Friday night at West Hollywood’s Viper Room to promote Issue, a full-length release of cover songs, out November 11. I hadn’t been to the Viper Room in over a decade and looked forward to seeing whether the place had changed. I was happy to see that it was much as I remembered it- dark, sparse and pretty rock-n-roll.
The band, featuring Zak Starkey, who has drummed with Oasis and the Who and has a deep rock-n-roll pedigree as the son of Beatles’ Ringo Starr, joined beautiful blonde singer Sshh Liguz to play to a packed house performing a set heavily full of Jamaican influences. Hearing live reggae brought me back to various times in my life when I dug into the record bins myself, exploring the original reggae versions of covers by bands such as the Clash or Blondie. In fact, Starkey and Liguz teamed up with Blondie’s drummer, Clem Burke, and Sex Pistol’s Glen Matlock for a pop/punk concentrated set list in New York City a few weeks ago before hitting sun soaked L.A. with this straight-up reggae trip.
This show gathered musicians Santa Davis, Fully Fullwood and Tony Chin, who earned their stripes playing with Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and Soul Syndicate, in a smooth song list with a rock steady groove. The crowd, a combo of Hollywood hipsters, sprinkled with a few friends of the band who have their own music cred, swayed to the rhythm and had an enjoyable time. I danced myself, remembering that reggae dancing is felt mostly in the hips, where my own feeling of music often resides.
I enjoyed the twists and turns of the cover songs and the band’s all-around energy. Filling out the set were reggae tinged covers of songs such as Amy Winehouse‘s Back to Black, Chuck Berry‘s Johnny B. Goode and Peter Tosh‘s Get Up, Stand Up. Starkey looked much like a kid on guitar, wearing a striped surfer t-shirt and clashing plaid pants, adding a fun, rock-n-roll element, while Liguz brought in some bleach blonde sex appeal and female coolness. All proceeds from this gig and their upcoming release are being donated to The Teenage Cancer Trust, an extremely worthwhile cause. I highly suggest checking them out if they come to play anywhere near you.
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