We went to see Ziggy Marley at Musikfest on a very warm Tuesday night. When does a concert become a communal celebration? When the entire crowd joins as one, gets out of their seats, sways to the music and sings along. You no longer feel like an individual and become part of a collective joined together by the performance on stage. This is what we experienced at the concert on Tuesday. It was an ‘assigned seating’ concert which usually means that most people will get up for certain songs and sit back for others. A lot of bands pace their shows this way, with some slower breaks then on to higher energy songs. Tuesday the entire crowd got up for the first song and never sat back down. Reggae music by it’s nature has a certain pace and feel to it. The pace is more mid-tempo, not really fast or slow. It’s all about the groove. And Ziggy Marley and his band hit that perfect groove on the first song and never let go. The concert was billed as a tribute to Bob Marley, Ziggy’s father, so the songs played were from Bob Marley’s catalogue and were very familiar to everyone in the crowd. Bob Marley’s songs, besides living in the groove, are heavily messaged lyrically. The messages run from the idea of peace and love to fighting the powers that try to control the average person. A lot of people can relate to the messages in Marley’s music. At a lot of shows bands will encourage people to sing along on certain songs. Ziggy never had to do that at this show. If he stepped back from the mic, you could hear the crowd singing along.
I have some pictures from the show. They’re a bit blurry as the night was hazy and we weren’t seated toward the front of the crowd. The venue was also pretty strict about not letting people hang in the aisles or get too close to the stage. Although that made it tough to get pictures (I’m honestly not as familiar with the camera in my phone as I am with my regular camera) I get that keeping people at their assigned seating probably provided a better experience for everyone.
Let’s talk about the band. It was a large ensemble. Two guitar players (in addition to Marley playing on some songs), two keyboard players, bass player, kit drummer, percussion player and two back up singers. That’s a pretty large band. And this band was really tight. When you’re working music that lives on a groove, anybody out of sync can destroy the feel. Everyone in the band held their own, coming front and center at spots and blending perfectly the rest of the time. Also kudos to the person who was doing the mixing at the venue. That’s a lot of players to work with and if you don’t do it right the entire show can sound like mush. It’s even more difficult when you’re at an outdoor open venue. Add to that the venue was in what is usually a parking lot so you have to deal with bounce back from the ground surface. The mix was spot on perfect.
We live in troubled times. The population of our country is fractured and angry. No place feels safe from this anger and confrontation. For an hour and a half Ziggy Marley and his band brought a large group of people together. Joined by a love of music and an undeniably joyful groove. You can’t ask for more than that when you attend a show. “One love, one heart, Let’s get together and feel all right”.
I’m including some video clips from Ziggy’s 2022 tour to give you a feel of the show we saw. The crowd sing along happens at all the shows.