After four decades as a pioneer of reggae, ska and dancehall music, an MBE under his belt and a distinct pair of frames and catchphrases to match, David Rodigan is an icon both through the sound waves and in the flesh.
Saturday night at RoXX was abuzz with the basslines of reggae rhythms and dub remixes heating up the dance floor in pure excitement of Rodigan’s arrival. An assorted array of bustling bodies from students, to those twenty something’s on their Saturday nights out, to seasoned ska rudebois; it was refreshing to have both music and the masses outside of the ‘student night’ bubble.
By 12 o’clock there’s a queue for the entrance around the block, it’s hard to believe RoXX is one of Southampton’s newer clubs. Boasting a rapport of alumni such as critically acclaimed artists Disclosure, Rudimental and Alt-J, to teenage dirtbags Wheatus (soon to grace the doors of this underrated venue), Rodigan was just one in a long list of music’s deities that gives RoXX its name. The night presented by music promoters WAX, who have seen the likes of DJ Zinc and Shy FX come under their wing, made sure the mood was set for a night with reggae royalty. Setting the theme with an ambience of fast paced lights and pyrotechnics, sound systems Notting hill Carnival would be proud of, and Jamaica’s finest Red Stripe on offer, WAX left no detail untouched.
The night started off low-key, with supports such as The Uplifter who graced the stage around half 10 as a DJ and live percussionist, he brought dub reggae records to life. Next up was DJ Bossman who was great but on occasions he did leave dancers in a game of musical statues when cutting classics such as Chaka Demus’ “Tease Me” and Bob Marley’s “One Love” straight down the middle and throwing it together with heavier dub to RnB favourites, pure bliss in the variety of what was played made up for the mid-tune changes.
By midnight, DJ Eddy Rocksteddy, a quite clear alliance of David Rodigan himself, brought the buzz that the crowd were so eagerly waiting for. Rocksteddy, a Southampton man himself, chose a well selected mix from the old skool to the new including that of Richie Spice’s “Youths Dem Cold” to Collie Buddz’s “Come around” in addition to a fusion of modern hip-hop mixes and up-tempo bassline, this eclectic DJ got the crowd hook, line, and sinkered.
By 1am Rodigan’s arrival onto stage was much anticipated, and went off with a bang. David Rodigan has quoted many times in the past that he first fell in love with music from Jamaica when watching Millie Small perform “My Boy Lollipop” on a TV show in his youth, and has not looked back since. Having collected records and DJed from the age of 15 he is quick to proudly point out that he has DJed in Southampton for over 30 years. Early on showcasing where his roots and love for the music came from; ska and reggae classics such as Toots & The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop” is played with their much better known “54-56 Was My Number” rolling off the decks after, greeted with unlikely listeners, you see the magic this music has unleashed. As well as Jimmy Cliff and his much loved Millie Small taking part in the collection, Rodigan has such a wide fan base due to his upkeep with a fiercely fast and changing music scene.
More recently, having produced and playing the sounds of modern grime tastes like the Newham Generals and dubstep DJ Caspa. Having had radio shows on the likes of Capital FM and Kiss 100, his latest venture over to BBC 1Xtra on Sunday evenings expresses his love for both the old and up and coming artists on the urban music scene. Seeming to have what you would call the Midas touch, he debuted new dancehall tracks (Rodigan’s name ringing through them) you can’t help but feel that what he touches turns to gold. Coming from behind the decks to vibes to something more up-tempo, his stage presence hits hard at a sea of jumbled limbs and ecstatic expressions. Known for his cathphrases ‘Give me some signal!’ and ‘Pull Up!’; giving signals from Southampton to Jamaica the masses felt unified by Rodigan’s much apparent passion, justifying why he’s such a pinnacle in reggae music today.
Photo credit: Garry Jones
Towards the end of his set, the audience in a sweaty mess of drum and bass, you see the modest side to the man himself shaking hands and taking pictures with those still sound enough to stand. He lost no vitality in his MCing abilities, dance moves part and parcel, it is quite obvious why he is very much still the MVP of his industry.
As 3 am rolls around, Rodigan, so clearly a humble man who shows the utmost respect for those in the same business, introduces V Dubz onto stage. Hitting the dance floor hard with house, you find those unidentified shufflers come out from the woodwork to do what they do best, and shuffle. Giving those who don’t take ‘going out’ lightly a chance to dance, spirits where left on a high after Rodigan’s departure, leaving on an upbeat tone, the vast range in music, crowd and soul meant that WAX presenting Rodigan, was a much expected success.
Photo credit: Garry Jones