Thursday, June 20, 2013

Technical troubles hit Inner Circle at The Social

     ORLANDO — Despite playing at a substandard venue called The Social that was plagued with several technical issues; vintage reggae music was masterfully performed by the “Bad Boys of Reggae,” know as Inner Circle.

     Regarded the world over as one of the greatest reggae bands in history, Inner Circle has endured many highs and lows since its initial formation back in 1968. They achieved early success in the 1970s with singer Jacob Miller, but momentarily disbanded after Miller’s tragic death in 1980. They reformed in 1986 and went on to reach international success with their two biggest hit singles “Sweet (A La La La La Long)” and “Bad Boys,” a song that is best known as the theme music for the “Cops” TV series.

     Roots reggae music has a traditional style typically known for a relaxed and uplifting feel. The members of Inner Circle stay true to their roots, but also have a strong stage presence that energizes the audience during their performance. Founding member and bassist, Ian Lewis, had a commanding control of the bass line, and drummer Lancelot Hall attacked the rhythms with perfect timing. Though the rhythm section of this band stood out the most, all the members of Inner Circle performed with the utmost control and professionalism.

     Inner Circle starting off the concert with some of their standard reggae jams including “We ‘A’ Rockers,” “Sweet Jamaica,” and the newly released reggae remixed version of “Young, Wild & Free.” The group also played a musical tribute their the late singer Jacob Miller, with a string of classic Inner Circle songs from Miller’s time including “Tenement Yard” and “Forward Jah Jah Children.”

     This show played at The Social in Orlando provided a unique experience to see such an iconic band in a small venue, but also created technical issues that plagued the performance throughout the night. Most noticeable was the sound mixing levels being too high for the bass guitar which overpowered the group, despite bassist Ian Lewis repeatedly motioning for the technician to lower it. The lead vocal’s microphone sound level also was poorly controlled leading to several instances of screeching feedback that left members in the audience yelling out in disapproval.

     Another founding member of Inner Circle and guitarist, Roger Lewis, looked openly frustrated  as he took the stage at the start of the performance, but played through the show like everything was normal. He then looked openly upset at the end of the main set and didn’t rejoin the group to play for the last few songs during the encore.

     Inner Circle has strong Florida ties with the group being based in Miami, and have played several times in Orlando before including shows at the House of Blues Orlando and Bob Marley: A Tribute to Freedom. These larger venues have superior technical accommodations and far better promotional campaigns than those found at The Social. It’s likely Inner Circle will return to Orlando in the future, but highly unlikely they will ever perform at The Social again.

     A band with such a great legacy has earned the right to play in a venue of a much high caliber.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

Ian Lewis of Inner Circle performs in Orlando at The Social.

Roger Lewis of Inner Circle performs in Orlando at The Social.


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