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Proof that 21st century music is still moving fast forward, Reverend Sound System defy gravity by playing house parties and mash up dubstep with indie to make a whole new style of their own reckons John Robb

With massive beats and a booming bass, the Reverend Sound System are shaking the room, soundtracking the 21st century. The collective are on stage making music that is a cut up of all the great underground sounds that are everywhere in the modern, fractured British music scene.

Blowing the myth that music is not going forwards the Reverend Sound System are not only re-writing the script, they are re-wiring just what music is in the 21st century.

It’s a tough job but thank fuck someone is doing it and doing it brilliantly.
There is the shuddering bass end of bassline and dubstep, the fractured beats of cutting edge dance, a nod to the rap and MCing of hip hop and also a love of the song from the indie and guitar worlds.

This is a powerful and potent brew and whole new way of making music.
Frontman and the Reverend himself, Jon McClure, is one of the last great rock n roll renegades. Not in the sense of pretending to be a Rolling Stone from the late sixties but in the sense of standing up for all that is good about the remaining possibilities of the counter culture sieved through a Sheffield working class nous and being prepared to say it.

He is impassioned, smart and a rogue, loose canon who speaks it as he sees it. He talks his truth in a music scene where keeping schtum has become the career saving option of the cowardly and the banal.

Mclure is the key figure in the Sheffield scene that sparked the Artic Monkeys where he also fronted his own band, Reverend And The Makers, who had a top five album and took on the whole music biz single-handedly and are still winning.

Reverend And The Makers cut some great pop music- a mixture of styles that never settled into the simple formulae of indie pop and they remain hungry for new ways to communicate on the music frontline.

Revered Sound System is one further, big step into the unknown- into world where indie pop is just one fragment of modern culture along with bass driven dance music.

Of course this is not a discourse on the death of the guitar! I’m still in love with the fierce electric of the six string and with that visceral excitement of the instrument that still dominates the frontline.

But every now and then I personally need something else and the thunderous pulse and endless soundscapes provided by dark technology have always been attractive. Click into Mary Anne Hobbs brilliant show on Radio One or check out the cutting edge clubs and there is a whole new riot going on out there.

The digital that interests Mclure is pushing forwards- stalking the furthermost points of possibility and it’s no mistake that in 2010 some of the most groundbreaking music is coming from the sheer possibilities provided by the technological.

Along with MIA, Mclure represents the radical mainstream fringe getting to grips with the endless rush of new sound out there. The Reverend Sound System make a heavy, heavy sound but they are not pure noise, this is a party. The beats, which are crushed, are superbly kinetic and the gig is quickly pumped into dance action. The Basslines are huge and really pumping whilst the two techie droogs- the legendary Jagz Kooner (worked with Andrew Weatherall on Jah Wobble, New Order, Flowered Up, Future Sound Of London, Psychic TV and Bjork and then put together, with Weatherall, the genius Sabres Of Paradise and loads of other great stuff) and Laura Mclure build up a massive wall of sound that is like a sic fi James Brown in its dancefloor intent allied with a smoking, sound system bass beat rumbling the floor- pure kinetic.

There is something quite beautiful about two tiny bits of keyboard kit providing something as fleshy as this.

On top McClure and his charismatic rap partner, Maticmouth, deal out the lines in tough northern brogue, MCing the whole show and driving the audience to a frenzy.

Reverend Sound System is the sound of the real UK- the mash up of cultures and noise that makes up the Saturday nights just beyond the chain bar hell of the city centres. This is the result of the melting pot mixture of music on the streets that is a million miles away from the jangling indie world of the mainstream media.

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Anyone who has ever been to a dubstep night will have been enthralled by the brilliant music and the killer MCS whose constant tough babble is the 21st century equivalent of a punk rock hardcore singer. They have the same clear-headed vision and euphoric relationship with the audience and the same inspirational off the cuff raw power.

The Reverend Sound System capture this but take it somewhere else.
Their journey is the real sound of the suburbs, the real soundtrack to modern UK the sound of a million car stereos, crackling iPods and mobiles, the heavy bass colliding with the trad indie love of the song is a powerful potion and this makes them a very powerful beast indeed.

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I’m afraid I cannot find it in my little heart to be impressed with the Reverend Sound System, because…


    1. I own records by Renegade Soundwave, and thus have that base covered, thanks all the same.


    2. Nobody who writes a song called ‘Wife Her Up’ gets my vote. WIFE IS NOT A VERB, fer fux sake. What do they teach them in schools these days?

  2. Yep. it’s been done before and better, Renegade Soundwave, Gary Clail, Audio Bullies, even Happy Mondays.
    As an aside, been listening to a dubstep compilation from Get Darker and as good as a lot of it is, it’s basically just On U/Tackhead with a few D&B flourishes innit?
    It’s been 20 odd years since acid house, the last time anyone invented a really new form of music which didn’t blatently seem to reference something older. C’mon kids, make something new!

  3. Wu-Tang’s GZA live in Manchester and special aftershow party with special guests and Rev Soundsystem : Louder Than War

    […] AFTERSHOW @ SOUP KITCHEN ??? special appearance @ 12am Special guests will be announced HERE! Reverend sound system 11:15pm Konny Konn (broke n £nglish) 10:15pm Plato […]

  4. […] comes from the Reverend Sound System, who are currently two piece. The band seems to getting put on a side burner but still burn with an […]

  5. […] There have been several new guests announced… James from Glasvegas for the Glasgow show Jon from Reverend and the Makers for Sheffield Richard Hawley to DJ in Sheffield Members of Primal Scream for London […]

  6. […] sound check also sees John Mclure coming up for a version of \’Bankrobber\’, John is from Reverend And The Makers and the great Reverend Sound System and is a big favourite here at […]


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