If you haven't heard Gentleman's Dub Club then you possibly don't like ska or dub as these 'gents' have been a strong presence on the scene in recent years and firm festival favourites with a reputation for high energy, note perfect performances. Gentleman's Dub Club certainly got some mileage with their early releases. Since their 2006 formation they released two EP's and a few single tracks in 6 years, touring extensively before finally gracing eager fans with the sublime 'FOURTy FOUR' album, a highly polished piece of work that just may have justified the long wait. I'd seen them perform many times, but in 2013 when I attended a show they played such a short set, maybe 35 minutes, that I'd left a little disappointed. That same month I'd seen the Skints play a blinding set for 2 hours so it had massively overshadowed the GDC performance. So it was with hope for an extended set that made me return to see them....well that and the fact they were practically playing on my doorstep.
As far as the venue itself, the organisers of Barnstaple's Factory venue have been working hard building it's reputation for booking strong live performers and it seems to be paying off with regular punters paying to see some of the UK's innovative musicians ply their trade. We should be grateful, elsewhere in the country music lovers take for granted that they can regularly attend concerts of quality musicians whilst inhabitants of North Devon more often than not watch them pass through South Devon and into Cornish territories without their schedule bringing them less than an hour away.
GDC hit the stage suddenly and unassumingly, if they hadn't been dressed like a ska band I would have assumed they were the crew preparing the equipment. They all arrive neatly dressed Jonathan Scratchley, our vocalist, in his grey trousers, white shirt, black tie, wearing socks but no shoes. He's a tall figure with a broad grin and when isn't singing bounces up and down shaking his hands like a ska version of Ian Curtis (except for the grin of course).
There's no mistaking quality, the back-line solid, the horn section crisp, the keys rhythmical and funky with Scratchley engaging the audience from start to finish. They play almost all of their songs during course of the evening, there's no surprises, we all know they'll play 'Feels Like', 'High Grade', 'Emergency', and 'Fire'. There are no new songs, no covers or remixes, but what we get a solid, perfect performance of excellent musicians riding their own tunes effortlessly. The North Devon crowd respond rapturously and throw themselves about every time a new tune drops. It's clear to see why GDC have a loyal following, they manage to keep the energy flowing whilst creating a wall of sound using delay and reverb in a way that perhaps hasn't been achieved since the mighty Salmonella Dub but unlike Salmonella Dub they have a timeless anthemic quality that makes people want to sing along.
The temperature rose until the finally, a single track encore, the concert was only slightly longer than the last occasion I'd seen them but GDC definitely represented themselves brilliantly. In a part of the UK where ska and dub are a strong part of the culture it's a shame that many of the acts booked at local festivals are stereotypical acoustic surf artists. The Factory however has produced another refreshingly good night for the people of North Devon, whatever will happen next? A local festival that will even have music artists playing? Surely not? I can hardly believe it but July will see Somersault Festival stay tuned North Devon this year we're getting spoilt!