The venue is not one of my favourites. It's an old cinmea, the sort that's more like a theatre inside, and as such is very cavernous. In this case, they wereren't using the balcony. In fact, the balcony was where the support bands had been given as a place to put their gear / get changed / whatever. In addition, the support got no money for playing, not even travel expenses (which would have been relatively small). Nor were they allowed to go backstage to meet the main act. I don't know if this poor treatment of them was because of the venue or the main act's requirements.
Anyway, I very much enjoyed the support acts, especially Esperanza, whom we had seen at a tny gig in Cosmopol in town as the last of four bands. They have a small but dedicated following! One of our friends plays guitar for Esperanza, so we were chatting to him afterwards. Bomb Skare are slightly more establised, but very similar in style. They play more original material though. Their two guitarists had complimentary yin and yang coloured guitars! How ska *g*. They were a bit louder too, I think.
Speaking of loud, these sort of gigs are always rather too loud for my liking. They get to a volume where there is no distinction between instruments anymore, and nothing can be clearly heard - the music would be far better if the levels were just pulled down a bit. It's not safe to have your ears ringing for hours after a gig. I blame the sound engineers! Why can't you just turn it down a bit! So I've bought some noise attenuation earplugs, designed for musicians. They have a relatively smooth response across the range of frequencies, bringing levels down by 20dB without distorting the sound. I shall be trying them out at the next loud gig, either playing or listening!
So I ought to mention the main act at some point! Toots & The Maytals, one of reggae's pioneering bands. Indeed, they claim to have invented the term in this context, in a song where they call it "reggay". The Maytals were solid, and not very expressive! They barely moved or smiled the whole gig! Toots himself was charismatic and dressed in an impressive shiny suit. He's pretty fit and healthy looking still. His daughter was a backing singer, with another girl, but unfortunately we couldn't really hear them. Toots' vocals were generally a decent level, but sometimes a bit quiet - he had a habit of varying his distance from the mic quite a lot. He also played a bit of electro-acoustic guitar, which was good.
The songs were good, and everyone heard what they expected to hear - I enjoyed it. However, I would say I enjoyed the support acts more, particularly Esperanza. They both appeared to be having much more fun, and despite smaller audience numbers, there was a better atmosphere.
Speaking of audience numbers, I prefer when there is room to stand without bumping other people! When the main band started, it got very busy, with no concept of personal space, especially from tall drunk guys that just barge in front and constantly nudge you... !