The Harder They Come, The Barbican, London

7th March 2008 at 00:00
"The harder they come, the harder they'll fall." In reggae star Jimmy Cliff's version this refers to the brutal deaths meted out by the gangs of Kingston, Jamaica. In Aussie sexpot Holly Vallance's song of the same name it refers to the men dropping dead at the sight of her hot bod.

Luckily the musical that arrives at London's Barbican this week is based on the former. The original film of The Harder They Come was released in 1973 to universal indifference, before being picked up by hipsters for its stonking soundtrack.

Tunes including "The Harder They Come" and "Rivers of Babylon" made it a breakthrough movie for reggae, in the days before Bob Marley was a student record collection staple.

The musical (pictured) features an onstage band and a bright young cast from its original run in Stratford. They tell the story of Ivan Martin, an aspiring reggae artist who goes to Kingston to pursue his dream before being caught up in industry corruption and shot down by police in a hail of bullets.

It's based on the life of Rhyging, a famous Jamaican outlaw. A good antidote, then, to Mamma Mia!

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