Review: Ska, Portsmouth Guildhall

Portsmouth Philharmonia players following their concert to raise funds for Hayling Island Community Centre

STUART REED: Players pull out all the stops at charity concert

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A rain spattered and windswept night greeted ska fans outside Portsmouth Guildhall on Wednesday night but inside the venue the climate was practically tropical thanks to a phenomenal line up of US musical talent.

In a double headline show ska legends Reel Big Fish and Less than Jake brought some much needed American sunshine to storm battered Portsmouth.

Opening the gig in modest style, Fish drummer Ryland Steen debuted accoustic versions of tracks from his forthcoming solo album This Magnificent!

Hot on Ryland’s heels Californian alt rockers Zebrahead arrived in crash of distortion and over amped guitars. The high-energy frat punks worked hard to engage the crowd with numerous calls for circle pits and shout outs to Portsmouth while belting out catchy rap rock tracks including Sirens and Call Your Friends.

Zebrahead’s performance warmed the crowd up but Reel Big Fish set it on fire. The west coast ska punks made it look easy with effortless crowd interaction from gurning frontman Aaron Barret ‘I’m sure you’ve noticed we are a lot more handsome in person. Check out the double chins ladies, aren’t we skadorable!?’ intercut between dance floor fillers including Beer and Trendy.

Despite uttering the ‘four worst words a band can say’ (‘here’s a new song’) the Fish could do no wrong and new tracks such as Punisher went down equally well.

With the almost impossible task of topping Reel Big Fish’s set, Less Than Jake took to the stage and proved why they were the final act of the night. From floor pounding opener Good Enough and classic Look What Happened to the sweat drenched encore of All My Friends Are Metalheads, the Florida five-piece gave an assured powerhouse performance leaving the crowd exhausted yet hungry for more as they trooped jubilantly out of the ska punk sunshine into the cold Portsmouth night.