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"plinston hall, letchworth review Jan 08"


UB40 tribute band Johnny 2 Bad played Plinston on 25th January. This review for Plinston Live by Denis Hill.

It was announced in the national media during the days leading up to this show, that this was officially the most depressing week of the year. I don’t know how they measure such things, but it must have been something to do with post-Christmas malaise, drab weather and shortage of cash.

Could Johnny 2 Bad lift the January gloom? We’d just have to suck it and see, but if the outrageous hype quoted in the pre-show publicity: “One of the best shows I’ve ever seen” (Greg Allen – The Stage), was anything to go by, then not even this ambitious task should be beyond them.

As I took my seat in a comfortably full, if not capacity, concert hall, I had to confess to a certain scepticism. I am not reggae music’s greatest devotee and find the genre rather banal and samey.

How wrong I was to be as this Birmingham-based eight piece sucked the dancers up onto the dance floor from the very first track (unheard of in Letchworth) in a four-beat and brassy intro, featuring James Renford’s seductive sax-playing.

Groovin’ (‘til I Die) was an early triumph and as we hot-stepped into Beautiful Woman, the infectious rhythm and highly visual stage presence tempted even more dancers to the floor – and the aisles and the doorways! Other high points of a barnstorming first set were The Only Love I Need (complete with synchronized dance moves by the three-man white-suited brass section) and If it Happens Again I’m Leaving, a track which demonstrated the tightness and spot-on timing so important to the reggae heartbeat.

And I must mention the super little trio which closed the first set, consisting of
Stick By Me (And I’ll Stick By You)
Here I am Baby
Take a Chance on Me (I’ll Love You ‘til the End of Time)

All serving to confirm the impressively Campbell-esque vocals of Wayne Lawrence and superb musicianship of his UB40 ‘co-workers’.

Into the second set and the band quickly and cleverly re-established their terrific first half rapport with an audience walk which beautifully emphasised the lilt and pulse of the gig. Rat in The Kitchen which followed was as pulsating as Sweet Sensation was captivating. I’ll be Yours (Baby Tonight) provided ample evidence of Skins’ drumming credentials and this number pitched us headlong into the Andy Williams inspired Can’t Help Falling In Love, expertly handled.

The obvious social and political content of One In Ten was nicely sugar-coated and here let me pay tribute to the talents of keys man Mickey Nanton and bassist ‘Boot’ whose respective contributions on the night were sublime. Even the door stewards were foot-tapping during Kingston Town and the band’s signature track Johnny You’re Too Bad was a sheer delight justly met by a rapturous ovation as the boys were formally introduced and thanked.

Of the many possible contenders for favourite track of the night, mine was Ivory Madonna, combining Wayne’s exquisite pitch-perfect vocals with the reedy, mellow, yet strong and stentorous brass tones of Stuart, James and Andy. This was like reggae wrapped in velvet!

My Girl Lollipop came next with its unfortunate reminder that I am old enough to remember Millie’s chart-topping version of the early sixties and then, predictably enough, Red Red Wine closed this outstanding show with a quality which had not faltered in two hours.

Any lingering January blues had long since evaporated in a euphoric performance which I rate as one of Plinston’s best ever – and I cannot believe I am alone in that view. True, the hall has seen bands of similar accomplishment before, but Johnny 2 Bad had managed to combine musical mastery with marvellous showmanship in a rare and heady blend.

Come back soon? You bet!

Denis Hill
Manager Plinston Hall
- Plinston Hall on line


UNCOVERED ALBUM CD - Track listing includes LOLLIPOP that went to No 7 in Lithuania Charts ( jan 08) and crowd favourites NO MORE HEARTACHES & LADY ( Check out ) and 9 other quality reggae tracks in a UB40 style



Johnny 2 Bad formed just over 2 years ago (2005) have rapidly established itself as one of the premier and most exciting new reggae bands in Europe Today.

Johnny 2 Bad boast a line up that wouldn’t be out of place on any stage in the World as Its core musicians of Mikey Nanton { Keys } , James Renford { sax } , David Skins { drums } and The Boot { bass } have well over 25 years of recording and World Wide touring at the very highest level with major recording artist such as Apache Indian, Musical Youth, Sting, Beres Hammond, Edwin Starr, Alexander O’Neale and for most of that period as part of the exciting Reggae Revolution backing band behind PATO BANTON that resulted in a GRAMMY nomination for best Live reggae Band in 2001.

Many appearances on TV & Video WORLDWIDE on such shows as TOP OF THE POPS, MTV, CDUK with the number 1 hit BABY COME BACK, as well as on stage performing hits such as PASS THE DEUTCHIE, BOOMSHAKALAK, GROOVING, BUBBLING HOT as well as being whisked by private jet for a one off show In San Remo, Italy, on the track THIS COWBOY SONG with STING, that also resulted in another collaboration with Sting on SPIRITS IN THE MATERIAL WORLD for the Jim Carey Movie ACE VENTURA PET DETECTIVE.

Private shows for Peter Gabriel and Womad as well as being the first ever Reggae band not only to perform at the SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE but also the first band to get the crowd up dancing ever, as it had a strict no standing up policy until that night !!.

The glamour side of the band is fronted by the widely acclaimed brass section who in addition to James extensive credits include, Andy Harris {Trumpet} and Stuart Haugh {trombone} who came fresh in to the band from the English Philharmonic Orchestras and even a Bombay Brass band.

The Brass part of the show has been widely accepted as probably the best live Brass section in the UK today for not only their playing abilities but also for their non stop dancing and journeys into the audiences on a nightly basis.

And finally on lead vocals and lead guitar, Johnny 2 Bad have the emerging raw talent of Wayne Lawrence who has gained a reputation as one of the best vocalists in the country today, his credits include song writing with the legendary NICKY CHINN of CHINN CHAPMAN fame ( biggest UK selling songwriters after Lennon / McCartney writing hits for Sweet, Mud, Suzi quarto, Go West and hundreds more ). Wayne was also the first reserve for the BBC series FAME ACADEMY ( Lemar ) out of 250’000 hopefulls.

After fronting the Birmingham Band FARSIDE ( Best Unsigned Band in UK 2005) he was head hunted to join Johnny 2 Bad to enhance the reputation from not only “Best Live band we have ever seen” ( The Stage Review 2007 ) but also now to having the best vocalist.

But this is not about just one person, JOHNNY 2 BAD is about a great band, a great show offering a live experience of REGGAE music that is second to none that crosses over all barriers.

The band has a huge fan base with well over hundreds of thousands of hits and friends on their My Space site:, plus a Loyal Solid and growing street team that support the band and spread the word through various websites including the bands own site:

The success of the band as opposed to being just a tribute band has been further supported by the call from fans to record our own album which we have just released called [UNCOVERED] and is being very well received with radio airplay already including a collaboration now with Lithuanian Pop Star ASTA PILYPAITE on the crowd favourite track LOLLIPOP.

The LOLLIPOP story attracted the attention of the BBC T.V, who flew out to Lithuania to film us as we became not only the First Reggae and British Band to chart in their country but also the First British act to sing in Lithuanian ever, creating History!! . The tour there also saw Johnny 2 Bad play on all the major TV shows such as X Factor, Eurovision, Saturday Night Prime time, and Breakfast TV’s where they also played 2 of their original tunes TAKE A CHANCE and ALL THIS TIME from THEIR Forthcoming 2008 album release.

The BBC documentary became one of the most popular and most hit stories worldwide on all their websites even out viewing legends like Radiohead by 7:1.

The success in Lithuania even resulted in the Ambassador of Lithuania making a special trip to meet the band and honour them for helping to promote his country and culture so positively.

2008 see’s Johnny 2 Bad release their first original album and tour the world spreading Positive Reggae Vibes everywhere they go.