On The Road: Weak Hand on Chronixx's First Stadium Show

On The Road: Weak Hand on Chronixx's First Stadium Show

August 21, 2016

Chronixx's tour sound engineer, Claude 'Weak Hand' Reynolds, remembers the night Chronixx & The Zinc Fence Redemption Band opened for rock band The Stone Roses at the home of Manchester City Football Club.

Rock and reggae's relationship stems back to 1970s Britain. Island Records founder Chris Blackwell targeted the rock crowd when promoting Bob Marley's breakthrough album, Catch A Fire. Punk rock bands (The Clash), two-tone ska bands (The Specials), new wave bands (The Police) and more experimented with influences from Jamaican music as well as rock. 1978's Rock Against Racism/Anti Nazi League concert and march saw the two cultures unite to counteract rising racist elements in UK like far-right nationalist political party, the National Front.

Manchester rock band The Stone Roses are also fans of reggae. Best known for late '80s hit "Fools Gold" and two platinum-selling albums, the Roses' were one of the pioneering groups of the Madchester movement that was active during the late 1980s and early 1990s. They are also cited as major influences Brit-pop bands Oasis and The Verve.

The band's lead singer, Ian Brown, asked Chronixx to perform before them and hip hop legends Public Enemy at the first of four sold-out nights at the Etihad stadium.

Reynolds' job is to make sure everything sounds perfect for Chronixx & Zinc Fence Redemption band on stage and, of course, the crowd. Having done this for Chronixx at various sized venues (small and large to open air festivals), this was also his first time working in a stadium. Here he reflects on that special night.

"It was very exciting because you only hear about these places on TV. Manchester City's stadium - you only dream of going to these places but when you actually do, it's a great privilege. It's not a common occurrence."

Reynolds, a former Arsenal supporter, used to be more heavily into football until life got in the way.

"I had to refocus my energy on music and what I was doing. That got most of my attention - 95% of my attention."

Preparation

"I took the same approach as I would with any other show but there are a couple of things to take in consideration. The acoustics are very different in a stadium than being outdoors or in a small space. They let me know in advance what system I'm gonna be using but there was a lot of reverberation - the bass resonates and bounces back at you."

"We were a bit late [to sound check] because we were held up in a bit of traffic, but they were very accommodating. They offered us a little more time to make sure everything was together and I really appreciated that."

"Reggae is bass-driven - drum and bass - so the bass was the main obstacle. There's a delay between when the singer's voice hits you, then there's bounce back off the stadium that comes back at you. You have to determine which one is the true bass and how to compensate so it doesn't get too heavy or you don't have enough bass in the mix."

"It's not often that we play in stadiums, so I asked the technical team who knew the place better than I do if what they're hearing is what they're used to. [Based on their feedback] I'd balance in between what I'm hearing and what their professional opinion is."

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Performance

"It was very good. I mean, just the fact that we were in Man City's stadium - the Etihad stadium - that alone was an experience in itself. The response of the audience was another thing. The response was very good.

"It was a rock crowd and the way they embraced reggae made me feel good. It kind've surprised me. A lot of people are more into reggae, not just because they know Bob Marley, but a lot of people now have a bit more experience in reggae. You have YouTube, things they hear on the radio - they are more exposed. I was a little taken aback [by the response] because I didn't expect that level of response knowing that it was a predominantly rock crowd, and trust me, it didn't feel like a support act.

"There are a couple songs throughout the set like 'Smile Jamaica' and a new song that has been incorporated into the sets, 'Blaze Up The Fyah', gets a very good response because it is a high energy song. 'Here Comes Trouble' is another song everybody is familiar with so it gets a good response. There are a lot of highlights throughout the performance. The Bob Marley cover 'Three Little Birds' got a good response too."

Lasting memory

"Just the fact that we were there was a big event for me personally, and I guess, for most of the band if not everyone in the band. We grew up seeing these stadiums on TV just watching football, or you see other big acts like Beyoncé and big groups like The Rolling Stones who play in stadiums and you're like, 'Wow, when will I get the chance?'

"The fact we actually got that opportunity is a lifetime experience. Have to give The Stone Roses respect for that."