Toots & The Maytals Review
Reggae is a universal genre that appeals to music-minded people, people who generally enjoy all kinds of music. Consequently Toots & the Maytals attract various breeds to their shows. This is a positive trait that unites even the most diverse strangers: Mums and dads mixing with rockers and skinheads.
Tonight, the Concorde2 is brimming with bodies. For those of us that saw Toots & The Maytals play the Brighton Dome last September it gives us the chance to experience the architects of reggae in less formal setting. We gather in anticipation for another sell out show.
Local band Samsara play a tight support slot, their ska fusion setting the tone of the evening. Later, Toots is joined on stage by two Maytals alongside the five piece band. Frederick ‘Toots’ Hibbert has an iconic stage presence that captures our attention – he is the focus and the star of the show. Toots dresses with customary matching attire composed primarily of leather waistcoast, matching trousers, bandanna and dark shades. The Maytals wear identical outfits with t-shirts proudly promoting the infamous Trojan records emblem. They casually sway along with simple hand movements throughout the show.
Warm tropical colours embellish the room and take us to sunny Jamaica. Toots is introduced to the stage and hums our troubles away using the effortless, happy lyrics of ‘Pressure Drop’. Toots has a friendly welcoming manner that embodies the relaxed, chilled out reggae vibe. He engages the crowd on a personal level by touching our hands and singing with us.
Audience participation is an integral part of the show. They play all the classic tunes: ‘Sweet & Dandy’, ‘Tighten up’, ‘Funky Kingston’, ‘Reggae Got Soul’ and ‘Monkey Man’. Most songs become twice their original length with Toots sing-talking, our involvement, and a speed change that normally happens just when we expect a song to end.
During ‘Bam Bam’ Toots melodically twangs an acoustic guitar highlighting the one major weakness in the show – messy sound quality and low volume. We can actually hear what people are saying around us and it’s not good when technical difficulties have a noticeable affect on the front man throughout the gig. Fortunately Toots & The Maytals are professionals and this doesn’t excessive hamper their set. Despite the hitch, we leave contented by our intimate encounter with the legendary 1960s reggae masters.
Concorde2, Tuesday 14th Aug 2012
Words by John Mclean
Photos by Mike Tudor @ Studio 85