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Toots and the Maytals at the Phoenix 17/05/06

Surfer Joe

TRIBE Member
As the show was sold out, I got there just after 8 to meet a friend and grab a rush ticket but he had already bought scalped tickets for $50 each. Steep, but I hadn’t seen Toots before and didn’t want to miss him this time around. Zipped through security, grabbed a couple of 50s in plastic cups and watched the crowd mill in—a serious variety of people from yuppie couples and frat boys to punks and stoners to knit cap dreadheads.

Everyone seemed pretty bewildered by the opening act, a boring alt-countryesque jam band from L.A. called the Southland. Pretty much inexplicable why they were on the bill. Had to be some record company agent wrangling or something. This blandness will not affect the night—more 50 in plastic cups. Smoke.

Toots came on and the place lit up like Christmas morning. It was completely packed and steaming in there. If I remember right he opened with “Pressure Drop” and proceeded to draw people in over the next two hours with all the classics. “Reggae Got Soul,” “Time Tuff,” a wicked version of “Funky Kingston,” “Monkey Man,” “54-46.” He’d stop singing every now and then as the band kept playing to lean down and punch fists with the crowd, touch his heart and flashing this wide smile, sweat just pouring down his face. He’s been called one of the best living vocalists and last night was proof. Soul, funk, gospel, reggae, the man is a phenomenon.

He’s gotta be 65 yet busted out some wicked moves, shuffling like James Brown, dedicating tunes “to all the pretty ladies in da frahnt roh,” rocking a studded headband and sleeveless vest (a la Aaron Nevillie). I haven’t been to too many shows like that where 99 per cent of the crowd complies when asked to play along and “Make a fist with your right hand and raise it in the air. Now, wave it side to side like dis….” The crowd was totally into it, singing harmonies, grooving to the numerous tempo changes—pretty much a reggae soul revival meeting.

Super tight backing band including a lead guitarist who shredded once or twice like Eddie Hazel from Funkadelic and two back-up singers, one who was Toot’s daughter, I think, and belted out her own dynamite solo. The rhythm section set down a groove so solid it was earthquake-proof. I always like seeing those longtime players—they seem imperturbable. “Yo man, I think your car’s on fire outside.” “Word? Just give me a minute to finish up here” (continues to play bass).

The night ended with an encore of “True Love is Hard to Find” and the crowd left blessed by Toots and soaked in sweat. Way more fun than church.
 

soulbrother 10

TRIBE Member
Surfer Joe - thanks for the review. I saw Toots and the band 20 years ago in a big concert theatre setting. He was great. But to see him in an intimate club setting. . . I do wish I'd been there at the Phoenix . . .
 
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patio-d

TRIBE Member
damn.
i can't believe i didn't even know this was going on!! what a sad out of the loop loser i've become. funky kingston has been in heavy heavy rotation for me for quite a while too.
and 'pressure drop' is basically my favourite song in the history of the world. I would have loved to hear it live. damn fuck.
 

Surfer Joe

TRIBE Member
Next time. He looks like he's not done rockin yet. Meanwhile, here's something interesting to look forward to:

Various -- Revolution Rock -- A Clash of Reggae, Rock, Soul & R'n'B
Trojan records (UK)
Upcoming Release (May)

It's no secret that the Clash had a great love of Jamaican music, as evidenced not only by their own music, but by the covers they chose to do. This set, compiled by Paul Simenon, features not just originals of reggae numbers they covered, but some tasty bits of soul and R&B too, with tracks they featured on their hard to get Black Market Clash set and even numbers that were only done live, but never recorded. 27 tracks in all, including Toots & The Maytals "Pressure Drop", Desmond Dekker & The Aces "Israelites", Danny ray "Revolution Rock", Alton Ellis "Dance Crasher", Junior Murvin "Police & Thieves", plus non-reggae numbers like Bo Diddley "You Can't Judge A Book By the Cover", Wanda Jackson "Fujiyama Mama" and Booker T & The MG's "Time Is Tight".
 
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