The Chancers + 2v1

Concert Review: Live at Roxy, 20th January, 2005

There's nothing quite as satisfying as a good skank, and this is the place to have one.

Anglo-Czech two-tone band The Chancers are the headliners at Roxy tonight, but the support act, local ska-punks 2v1, are equally impressive.

After sauntering casually onstage, swigging beer from bottles, the young-looking Prague band suddenly snaps into gear, belting out a thrilling ska version of the Magnificent Seven theme as an opener.

That energy level doesn't drop when 2v1 launch into their original material.

Audience attention is divided between the bouncy lead singer/guitarist, stage right, and a three-piece brass section center stage, featuring a trombonist, a giant trumpet player and the most fired-up saxophonist I've ever seen.

The brass section's stabs of bright yellow noise give the 2v1 sound a fullness and energy that lift them above their ska-punk peers. It's a set with rough edges, including the constant hum of feedback, but that rawness only adds to the overall impact.

In many ways, The Chancers are a very different band. While 2v1 look to the punk scene for inspiration, the headliners stay faithful to a ska template laid down in late-70s and early-80s Britain, closer to the genre's reggae roots.

A Chancers show is perhaps the only time you'll ever hear a white Englishman speaking Czech with a Jamaican accent.

Looking like a Mini-Me version of Bad Manners singer Buster Bloodvessel, iconic frontman Simon Ruffskank makes the most of the spotlight, assisted by an equally charismatic second singer.

Besides guitar, bass and drums, there are two saxophonists and, unnecessarily perhaps, a keyboard player, but The Chancers are more guitar-driven than 2v1.

They're not helped tonight by a muddy mix that leaves a lot of the songs sounding very samey, but a decent-sized midweek crowd doesn’t seem to care, skanking up a storm and calling the band back for two encores.

The ideal ska band, you feel, lies somewhere in-between 2v1's hungrier, more exuberant sound and The Chancers' smoother, more "authentic" performance. In their absence, though, a double bill featuring both bands works just fine.

PTV Rating: 3 out of 5

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