Stephen and Ziggy Marley performed their father’s songs like no one else could at the Bowl Aug. 16. (Rafael Orellana/LOL-LA)
Sunday night’s impeccable Reggae Night: Bob Marley’s Roots Rock Reggae – A 70th Birthday Celebration at the Hollywood Bowl proved Jamaican reggae is more than alive in Los Angeles. This year’s Reggae Night was pegged as a celebration of Bob Marley’s 70th birthday, and the likes of Ziggy Marley, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Inner Circle and the Skatalites all joined the sold-out party.
Eight-member ska, reggae, jazz band, the Skatalites got the festivities started and, boy, were they awesome during their 45-minute set. The immensely peppy crowd enjoyed them a lot, especially Doreen Shaffer’s vocals.
Inner Circle, a sextet also from the Caribbean island, went off for another 45 minutes. Lead singer Errol “Skatta” Bonnick was spot on during the nine performed tunes. “Bad Boys,” their finale, proved magical musically. We all get a kick out of that track every time we hear it, it’s so popular; experiencing it live was nothing less than spectacular.
Inner Circle turned up the Hollywood Bowl, hands down. It’s safe to say everyone was excited to see this illustrious music act as much as they were there to witness history by the Marley brothers.
Despite the turned up energy, Ziggy and Stephen (and at one point even Bob’s grandson Skip Marley) quickly soothed the crowd with “Redemption Song.” The brothers sang the mellow, uplifting tune – as well as the rest of the memorable 15-melody set – as a duo.
Throughout his career, Bob had been an unexpected ambassador of attempting to cure racism and hate with music and love. He truly believed in such a thing; his music, of course, is his most prominent example. With “Redemption Song,” we saw the Marley brothers go about promoting just that about their father.
The third song of the night, “Is This Love,” quickly created chills among the audience. The live rendition of the late-1970s piece was romantic and upbeat. Vocals from both Ziggy and Stephen were the closest thing that there could be to Bob’s distinctive voice. This was such an impactful tune of Reggae Night this year.
Another intriguing moment came when Skip delivered an epic “Roots Rock Reggae.” The palpable public engaged with Skip on the “roots rock reggae” stanzas, and the tenor saxophone play was incredibly sensual.
“Buffalo Soldier,” “No Woman, No Cry” and “One Love” were all stunners. “Get Up, Stand Up,” which talks about the act of battling oppression, proved motivating with regard to fighting for our many rights in life. While at times being undertone in sound, “Get Up, Stand Up” bestows an aggressive energy (in a positive way) intermittently. The on-stage demeanor of the Marley brothers depicted such.
For the encore, the Marleys granted us “Could You Be Loved” – one of Bob’s highly recognized tracks worldwide. The song, which was rendered beautifully, served as a reminder that Bob was and continues to be one of the best songwriters of all time. If you think or believe otherwise, just ask the Angeleno fans who attended this year’s Reggae Night how much they love and enjoy reggae.