Each time I’ve seen Ziggy Marley live, I feel like a better person. His positive lyrics, dancing and smile are a treat.
Ziggy has certainly established himself as one of Reggae’s most popular performers. He’s carrying on the tradition of his late father, Bob Marley. Like his father, his music and lyrics have a message.
And like his father, Ziggy is a Rastafarian. Rastafarians are very spiritual people, always praising God or as they say Jah. Believing in an I-tal (natural) way of life, they are very positive.
In fact, they remove negative words from their vocabulary. e.g. they would say livication as opposed to dedication. Live (as in ‘to live’) versus dead.
Their music is a reflection of this positivity. Sure some reggae songs may talk of black oppression and slavery, but beneath the surface there always seems to be a positive message of hope.
I met a nice couple before the show in the foyer while the opener, a DJ, was playing tunes. Chantal and Tim, got married on Feb. 14 of this year. Tim asked her where she would like to get married. Being a huge Reggae fan, she picked Jamaica.
Tim wasn’t much into Reggae before they went but he told me that it really grew on him while they were there. I know the feeling, same thing happened to me the first time I went there in ’87.
Chantal, like myself had never seen Bob Marley live, but as she said this is as close as we’ll ever get. I agreed.
There was a wide range of folks, young and old settling into their seats. I was seated beside two sixteen year olds, Marley and Mason.
This was Mason’s first Reggae concert. Marley grew up listening to Reggae all his life. His father was born in Trinidad and moved to Miami to go to college. His roommate was Bob Marley’s brother, Rohan. Marley was named after Bob.
Ziggy started off the show with Wild and Free, a song about mariijuana (Ganja) plants growing freely everywhere and happy hippies. Ganja is used as a sacrament in Rastafarians meditations on Jah.
The nine piece band included two keyboard players, guitar, bass, drums (Peter Tosh’s drummer, who also played with Soul Syndicate) and percussion.
Ziggy also played guitar for most of the tunes, and he also had his dancing shoes on as he danced around the stage joining his two lovely backup singers, who did some amazing African type dance moves throughout the evening. The joy in their faces showed they were having a great time up there doing their calisthenics.
“If you don’t know your past you don’t know your future,” he said as they launched into Tomorrow People.
He then told us that “This is the Conscious Party if you didn’t know.” Yeah, he gets a little political at times.
In the middle of the song he repeated the lines “Got to get conscious,” a few times before directing the mantra to “the leaders of the world.” Does politics belong in music? Why not. We should be conscious of our leaders and not let them lead the people astray.
Ziggy’s upbeat attitude shone through not only in his songs but in his between song chats with the audience.
“I’ve got to be true to myself and you’ve got to be true to yourself,” he stated before they played True to Myself. And while he sang of “the ones who sell the bombs, the bullets and the guns” he also mentioned that, “love will win the war.”
Love is My Religion seems to be the conclusion he came to after,”searching to find out what this life is worth” (kind of paraphrasing a line from his father’s Get Up Stand Up).
“Through the books and the bibles of the times, I’ve made up my mind.” He had the whole audience singing the title by the end of the song. Looks like he converted us.
The folks in the first few rows on the floor were on their feet right from the start of the show, but as soon as the first two notes of One Love were played, everyone in the venue was on their feet singing along.
I seriously think the United Nations should declare this song as the World Anthem. “One Love One Heart, let’s get together and feel alright.” My God, you could just feel the positive energy in the room as everyone sang along, dancing and swaying to the infectious grooves.
Appropriately enough the last song before the encore was Look Who’s Dancing. You know who was dancing? Damn near everyone in The Burt that evening.
Band left the stage to roaring applause, but we weren’t gonna let them leave now.
They came back for the encore. “We’re one human family. There is no colour of skin. I see no colour,” was his way of introducing We Are the People. Took a while, but the unmistakable aroma of Ganja was now wafting through the air.
Is This Love was next. Damn right’s it’s love. We were loving every minute of this 102 minute love fest. They ended the evening with Weekends Long.
As the house lights went up I asked Mason what he thought of his first reggae concert. “Amazing,” he said with a big smile on his face.
During the show I noticed a young fellow really getting into the music. His name was Andres, a 12 year old guitar player who also recently started playing alto sax. I talked with him and his uncle Luis who bought 11 tickets to see the Reggae superstar. Luis exclaimed that it was “the first time I’ve seen Ziggy…and it won’t be the last!” He was excited.
So many happy, smiling people filed out of the venue at the end of the show. About 20 lucky folks who happened to be by Ziggy’s bus out back got invited onto the bus two at a time to meet the man for autographs and photos.
A truly magical and spiritual evening.
All photos by Doug Kretchmer (except as indicated)
Video clip by Doug Kretchmer
1- Wild And Free
2- Start It Up
3- Moving Forward
5- Reggae in My Head
6- Brotherly Sisterly Love
8- Tomorrow People
9- True To Myself
11- Conscious Party
12- Love Is My Religion
13- One Love
(Bob Marley cover)
14- Look Who’s Dancing
15- We Are The People
16- Is This Love
(Bob Marley cover)
17- Weekends Long