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BALL OF FIRE: A Ska night in Camden

On September 29th the Ball of Fire event took place at Dublin Castle. Dublin Castle is the legendary public house situated in the famous district of Camden Town.  It was here that The Madness first attempted to secure a gig in late 1978 when they were still known as The Camden Invaders.  Many music lovers come here to drink a beer or to take in a gig for this reason. Blur, The Libertines, and many ska, Britpop and punk bands have played here over the years.  Amy Winehouse was also a regular of the pub.

Dublin Castle is popular because of the live music nights Wednesday through Sunday. This particular event was the Ball of Fire night: a night presented by BugBear Promotions. Reggae/Ska band The Petty Thieves (a traditional Jamaican ska band), The Estimators, and the fabulous DJ Charlie King (Klub Skank) rounded out the bill.

The show opened with The Petty Thieves; a 7-piece sleazy Reggae/Ska band from the dirty suburbs of Medway, Kent.  Their dirty reggae is very explosive.  It steals your heart and makes you dance all night. The people dance, laugh and are generally happy thanks to their sound.

I had just listened to the EP Better Things but their live performance is good.  The new single “Riddles of Madness” is very funny and dynamic.  They are a young band with a fresh sound and lots of experimentations and contaminations that are very important to make reggae interesting again nowadays.

The true surprise, however, was The Estimators, a true Jamaican traditional ska band.  “We love to play pure and unadulterated traditional Jamaican ska: we are not happy until we get everyone around skanking and jumping, then we really get going.  We just love it and you will love it!” (The Estimators).  And that is exactly how their set was.

The Estimators are musician friends aiming to take ska back to its traditional spirit and sound with all deserved respect and reverence for this genre’s masters.
This eight-piece Jamaican ska band was formed by Bill (drums), Mark (lead vocals), Robin (toasting vocals), Marcello (bass), Phil (Guitar), Sean (tenor sax), Matt (keyboards), Marcello (trumpet-trombone).

Between the audience and the bands, the atmosphere was great.  The people, sound, and style all made for a great mood. There was a good mix of traditional skinheads, punks and Jamaican ska lovers.

Boots, Oi! pins, Ben Sherman shirts, tartan skirts, Donkeys…… that night all of the old school fashion was there.  A lot of the skinheads there were more than 50 years old and danced all night, proving you are only as old as you feel!

The Estimators are a very fascinating and captivating band.  Being in the crowd, you feel like an active part of the gig.  Band members leave the stage and sing and dance with the audience. People were very involved in filming them.  Robin is a great ska dancer and toasting vocals.  There was even a standing ovation during the performance of the songs “Bluebeat Train”, “It’s Your Voodoo Working”, and “Skaculation”.

To finish off the night, a DJ set featuring Charlie King kept the audience dancing.  He played classic rocksteady and two-tone tunes, and people danced all night! This was definitely a BALL OF FIRE!!!

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