JAM Magazine Concert Reviews

May 8, 2012
Hard Rock Cafe - Orlando
Orlando, FL USA
Review by David Brais
Photos by David Brais

Ziggy Marley

Years ago, I remember a friend of mine, Mike Gregg, espousing the virtues of reggae music. Personally, I didn't get it, nor did I care to take the time out to even acknowledge its existence. To me, it was a style of music you might take the time to try and understand, but you just didn't want to put forth the effort to do so. My buddy wasn't discouraged by my lack of enthusiasm for this particular style of music he couldn't get enough of. His response to me was simple and direct. "Don't worry Dave. Some day you will be ready, and when it happens, you will be enlightened."

Normally, Cleveland and the surrounding areas are my stomping grounds when it comes to music. However, when I found out I'd be in Orlando, Florida for a couple of nights the second week of May, I quickly scoured the Internet to see what shows were in town. To my surprise, I saw the name Ziggy Marley. I instantly thought of my friend Mike Gregg and our conversation many years ago. It looked like 'some day' had finally arrived for me. A quick call to Jam editor David Huff and I was in. What I was 'in for' was anyone's guess.

With dreadlocks reaching down past his knees, Ziggy Marley took the stage to a thunderous ovation. He launched right in to "Welcome to the World," from last year's Wild and Free album. Instantly the Hard Rock Live crowd displayed their reggae savvy. They sang along enthusiastically with Bob and Rita Marley's oldest son, as they danced and sashayed about the floor. The sudden wave of humanity moving about took me by surprise.

Vocalist Tracy Hazzard added another dimension to this already intriguing situation. She slowly grooved to the music to the side of the stage for all to take their cue from. Her subtle movements provoked an almost subliminal message for the people to get into the rhythm of the beat. Tonight everyone was united in celebration. Whatever troubles bothering anyone before there arrival, were soon forgotten once they entered the portals into Ziggy Marley's world.

The 43-year old heir to the Marley kingdom has been changing his set list nightly on tour, and this evening was no different. This would be the first of four cuts from Ziggy's latest solo offering. Three more songs from last year's Wild and Free release, "Reggae in My Head", "Personal Revolution" and the title track were performed. Interestingly enough, the biggest reaction of the night came when Ziggy's band launched into "Love is My Religion." The title track from Marley's 2006 Grammy Award winning album also proved to be a showcase for the talents of his backing band. The stellar cast of musicians included guitarists Beezy Coleman and Takeshi Akimoto; percussionist Angel Roche; Michael Hyde and George Hughes on keys; veteran Pablo Stennett on bass, and long time Marley drummer Santa Davis. This group effortlessly breathed life into the words Ziggy was singing and helped transform the festivities inside to more than just a concert. With this being my first real exposure to reggae, I couldn't have asked for a better introduction to the music.

One aspect of Ziggy Marley, I discovered, is his ability to transcend the ether between the hardships of love and freedom with his lyrics. I didn't quite understand it at first. But as the evening progressed, the reaction of the crowd to everything Marley, whether it was his solo work, songs he'd written with the Melody Makers, or just channeling his father through tunes like "Is This Love" and "Stir It Up", spoke volumes about this artist.

I was quite surprised by the age of tonight's crowd. I would say the vast majority of the people were in their 20's. Many were on dates. About 15 minutes into the show, even the stiffest person in the room had loosened up and was moving to sounds of the 'rasta' king. It's strange, but I discovered that reggae has a way of sneaking up on you when least expected. Your senses are seduced and your body unexpectedly gets caught up in a strange euphoria that urges you to move. Again, I've never been to a reggae concert, so my only reaction to the events unfolding around me was "Wow!" That this young audience knew all the words to Ziggy's music, to me, was not only amazing, but quite a compliment to Marley himself. Again, this excited group inside Hard Rock Live sang loud and proud throughout the night. They made sure the architect of their joy felt their good vibrations on the stage and beyond.

Ziggy ended the show with his father's classic hit, "Get Up Stand Up." He came back and performed four more tunes before bidding the crowd a gracious adieu. As I was driving back to the hotel, I couldn't help but marvel at the situation I had just experienced. Suddenly, a familiar voice was whispering in my ear. "You will be enlightened!" Prophetic words to live by indeed my friend. It took a while, but I finally saw the light.

Set List:
Welcome to the World
Be Free
Personal Revolution
Conscious Party
Let Jah Will
Reggae in My Head
Stir It Up (Bob Marley)
Tomorrow People
True to Myself
Black Cat
Love is My Religion
Is This Love? (Bob Marley)
Justice (Bob Marley)
Get Up Stand Up (Bob Marley)
Beach in Hawaii
Wild & Free
Work (Bob Marley)
Look Who's Dancing Ziggy Marley "Look Who's Dancing" Hard Rock Live, Orlando FL 5/8/2012 Uploaded by TheSoberGoat »