The Floating Bridges: Creatures of Leisure

cover170x170Here’s the Australian “reggae-infused” rock band with a new album. Starting out in 2009, the five-piece band have recently been touring in the UK and are now about to release their ‘Creatures of Leisure’ album, extending their fan base well beyond their native Queensland and building on the success of their debut album, ‘Chasing Sunsets’, released in 2012.

Floating Bridges enjoys a formidable live reputation and it seems that the new album was created via the band’s own jam sessions. The first single, ‘Dreamcatcher’, features reggae rhythms and a pounding rock guitar intro and breaks which the publicity material describes as akin to Jimi Hendrix, but in truth is more reminiscent of Jorma Kaukonen, no less, at his peak. Other songs, such as earlier single ‘Eloquence’, are straightforward heavy rock. It’s a mix. ‘Creatures of Leisure’ brings together reggae and rock in a way that is not always easy to accomplish and this difference alone makes it worthy of your attention.

The Floating Bridges: ‘Creatures of Leisure’ released on August 28th 2015

Jimmy Cliff at the Riverside, Newcastle

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Jimmy Cliff’s appearance at the Riverside on 6th August was another chapter in his undiminished record as a great purveyor of classic ska and reggae. His voice remains strong, his movements across the stage rapid and seemingly accomplished with ease. The venue helped: bigger than a backroom club, smaller than an arena-scale theatre, it was the perfect setting, yards from the river and with views of three of the Tyne bridges close by.

Beginning with drum-based African-mode Bongo Man and Rivers of Babylon, the set went on to include all the songs you might expect, from the very early Miss Jamaica and King of Kings, through the UK hits You Can Get it if You Really Want, Wild World, the Harder They Come and Vietnam, and taking in Hard Road to Travel, Let Your Yeah be Yeah, and of course Many Rivers to Cross, the location adding poignancy to this last song. Musically the band was excellent, moving from song to song seamlessly, often without a break, and holding down the rhythm perfectly. The pitch and volume of the bass gave your internal organs something to think about while the backing singers complemented Jimmy perfectly. As the set moved on for not much less than two hours, the strongest moments were in the upbeat ska numbers where it is difficult to imagine anything much better.

It was a show where Jimmy Cliff knew how to interact with the (diverse and madly enthusiastic) audience and where he knew what they wanted. But, crucially, this wasn’t Elvis in Las Vegas. It wasn’t just a reprise of well-known tunes; it was real, and authentic. Playing in London tonight, and then in mainland Europe, see this if you can, as it really doesn’t get any better than this.