Son of Jamaican reggae legend Bob Marley, Julian ‘Ju Ju’ Marley is a Grammy award nominated, roots reggae musician, singer-songwriter, producer and Rastafarian. On a rare UK tour, any reggae fan worth their puff would be a rasclat to miss it. The first of his six destinations, reggae lovers in and around Brighton flocked to Concorde 2 on a balmy Tuesday evening to witness a touch of Marley magic.
Support act Iba MaHr ‘The Black Youth of Harar’, a young sensation for authentic Jamaican reggae in the lovers rock genre, got things off to an energetic start, skanking and gyrating around the stage, while showing off his lovely, quivering vocals, a little reminiscent of veteran reggae singer Horace Andy. With lyrics clearly inspired by Rastafarianism, roots and culture, MaHr is flying the flag for old skool reggae to inspire a new generation.
With the addition of two female backing singers, the excellent seven-piece Uprising band remained on stage for Julian’s set. After being introduced by the effective hype man, Marley, looking and sounding so similar to his famous father, with his thigh-length dreadlocks swaying around his lanky figure, played tracks from his first album ‘Lion in the Morning’ (1996), ‘A Time & Place’ (2003) and 2009 album ‘Awake’.
Performing fan favourites like ‘Systems’, with the kind of social commentary on Babylon of Bob’s songs;’Violence in the Streets’, the collaboration with his arguably better known brother Damian and ‘Lemme Go’, by the time he got to the irresistibly catchy ‘Boom Draw’, the cheerfully stoned crowd were singing along to the patois chorus “Catch up all a fire / Fi go burn di sinting sinting weh strong”.
‘Build Together’, ‘Harder Dayz’ and ‘Sharp As A Razor’ showcased the musicians and backing singers complementing Julian’s husky vocals superbly. He also debuted new song ‘Warzone’, a slow, touching number and a few covers of Bob Marley’s classics, including ‘Exodus’, which Iba MaHr joined him on stage for, and ‘Africa Unite’, both of which possibly gained the most enthusiastic reception.
Coming from reggae royalty, one has to wonder how much Julian’s fame is a result of the Marley name and legacy. Undoubtedly, this has put him and his brothers Damian, Stephen and Ziggy, in a privileged position within the music industry, but there’s no denying the guy is a talented musician, singer and songwriter in his own right and his late father would be proud of him.
Concorde 2, Tuesday 16th August 2016
Words by Emma Baker