The Selecter + Rhoda Dakar + Emily Capell @ The Roadmender, Northampton on 22nd October 2019


Like the musical offspring of Billy Bragg and Amy Winehouse, West London’s Emily Capell has a sound and effervescence that renders her immediately likeable. Beneath an impossibly high beehive she appears armed only with an electric guitar and songs that alternate between wry observations and righteous indignation. Opener ‘Brixton Prison’ sets the world to rights and is quickly followed by the jaunty ‘No Worries’. As the title suggests ‘Ipso Calypso’ has Caribbean flavourings but it’s served up with punk attitude. Crushing hecklers with comedic flair Emily turns in a good natured, conversational performance. Performing sans backing band has the benefit of bringing the lyrics to the fore and when they’re this good that’s exactly where they should be. Case in point being ‘I Found a Footballer to Marry Me’ which lampoons celebrity culture. ‘Who Killed Smiley Culture’ is reminiscent of Billy Bragg on serious downers but the bouncy ‘Bonanza’ ensures Emily bows out on a high.

The legend that is Rhoda Dakar appears after Emily Capell playing classic reggae tunes. Reminiscent of dancehall days her DJ set spins discs from Anita and Donna via the Clash and The Slits and the result is a punky reggae party that provides the missing link between Emily Capell and tonight’s headliners The Selecter.

The Selecter are garnered something of a heroes welcome by a near capacity crowd and opening with ‘The Avengers’ ensures things get of to a suitably raucous start and by next track ‘Three Minute Hero’ they’ve won over any doubters. Most bands would save such a seminal track for an encore but, with a back catalogue that’s an embarrassment of riches, The Selecter are confident in tossing it in early. Still lead by partners-in-rhyme Arthur ‘Gaps’ Hendrickson and the irrepressible Pauline Black they play with an energy that belies their years and we must question if this really is their 40th anniversary. The Selecter were always more lyrically astute than their peers but were wise enough to wrap up politically charged tracks like ‘Frontline’ and ‘Breakdown’ in gloriously danceable tunes. Wasting little time between songs ‘Celebrate the Bullet’, ‘Murder’ and ‘Danger’ are unleashed in quick succession while ‘(Who Likes) Facing Situations’ is the perfect vehicle for Gaps’ oak-aged voice.

A cover of the perennial ska classic ‘Train to Skaville’ turns the venue into a sea of bobbing heads while the theme from ‘James Bond’ only serves to increase the insanity. ‘On My Radio’ is warmly welcomed like an old friend as is Rhoda Dakar who returns to sing on two  Bodysnatchers tracks: ‘Ruder Than You’ and a lively ‘Let’s Do Rocksteady’. In a move reminiscent of an old 2-Tone show all three vocalists unite for ‘Too Much Pressure’ which incorporates the Toots’ classic ‘Pressure Drop’ and another cover follows in the shape of Prince Busters ‘Madness’. The Selecter and Rhoda close with the Andy Williams standard ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’ (made famous by The Beat) as a fitting tribute to the much lamented Roger Rankin and ensures no one leaves disappointed.

Reviewed by Peter Dennis.

The Selecter Set List:

The Avengers

Three Minute Hero

Out on the Streets Again




Celebrate the Bullet



(Who Likes) Facing Situations

Missing Words

Remember Me

The Whisper

See Dem a Come

Train to Skaville

James Bond

Carry Go Bring Come

On My Radio

Ruder Than You

Let’s Do Rocksteady

Too Much Pressure (featuring Pressure Drop)


Can’t Get Used to Losing You