The usual nonsense at a reggae gig, with proceedings not starting until 21.45 despite the doors opening at 20.00. With this late start I was never going to see the whole show and get home before the tubes stopped running, so it’s always annoying to hear an inane DJ ask us over and over again if we’re ready for tonight’s performance when we’ve been waiting around for the best part of two hours and are obviously more than ready.
With the crowd getting impatient for things to start, it was a relief to see Black Am I, the first of the Ghetto Youth International acts, when he finally took to the stage. He was followed by Wayne Marshall who brought Gappy Ranks on for one number, then Christopher Ellis (London born son of Alton Ellis) who performed a good set and has a soulful voice.
All the artists tonight are backed by the same band “The Council”, comprising drums, bass, two keyboard players, lead and rhythm guitar, a percussionist and two female backing singers. They’re good and tight, a good base for the Marley family to do their thing.
By the time Damian Marley took to the stage it was 22.40 and he was given a huge reception as he launched into the Skrillex produced “Make it Bun Dem”. It’s the start of a set spanning his career so far right up to new track “Set up shop”. He’s a versatile vocalist, easily switching from singing to chatting as he goes through his set. After playing for about twenty minutes he brings on his brother Julian and they launch into the song “Violence in the streets”. Julian then does some of his own material which is a bit slower than Damien’s, and this noticably slows proceedings down.
After Julian’s set, Damien then introduces us to Stephen Marley who sounds the most like Bob Marley out of all the brothers (Ky-Mani Marley also sings a bit like Bob but he’s not here tonight). There’s a great party vibe on stage, with all three brothers laughing and joking between themselves in a celebratory mood. Some more of their relatives are dancing in the wings, including Cedella Marley their fashion designer sister. Damien Marley also mentions that his mum, Cindy Breakspeare is in attendance.
I left at this point to get the last train home, I’m not sure how a sold out venue full of people all got home as it was nearly one in the morning when the gig finished. What I saw of the show was great but it would have been better if they’d been made to stick to a curfew and started earlier as it would have been nice to catch most of the show instead of half. Particularly as the time when they could have been on stage was filled by forcing us to listen to the DJ’s do that karaoke thing of singing along to the tunes as they played them which is just irritating and makes you want to fling record at the man dem throat.
A good addition to the Jamica 50 years of independence celebrations. Damien Marley is a great live act.