This article by Richard Change appeared in The Orange County Register.
How much is he his own man Ziggy, and how much is he the eldest and best-known son of the most famous reggae singer in modern music history?
Ziggy Marley didn’t really answer that question Saturday night, but he did please a welcoming crowd at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa.
How can you not please a Southern California, surf, skate, stoner and rasta-wannabe congregation, especially when the possibilities for a contact high (or direct hit) are so plentiful? Also, at least half of this audience grew up on legendary father Bob Marley’s music.
Ziggy is on his tour with former Melody Makers and some new musicians to promote his latest album, “Fly Rasta,” released in April. It’s a strong album, one of his best since “Conscious Party” in 1988 or “One Bright Day” in 1989.
He brought backup singers Tracy Hazzard and Chantelle Ernandez with him. They are solid vocalists and dancers, and a great complement to the dreadlocked lead singer.
Ziggy’s nine-member touring band also includes two percussionists, two keyboardists, a bassist and two guitarists. One of the axe men, Takeshi Akimoto, did a fine job on his instrument and surprised more than one person in the audience, who maybe didn’t expect a Japanese dude to be jammin’ onstage with such a well-conditioned, well-oiled reggae outfit.
Marley and his band opened with “Love is My Religion,” a hit from 2006. It was a crowd pleaser, especially among the couples in the audience.
Ziggy then performed “Wild and Free,” which includes the lyrics, “I see marijuana trees blowing in our breeze.” Many in the audience happily complied and puffed their own breezes, and no one got kicked out by security, unlike the bad old days. (See the Doors of the 21st Century, Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger’s old band, Pac Amp, July 2003. Expulsions aplenty.)
Ziggy and bandmates did “Conscious Party” from the 1988 album of the same name. It’s still a cool and lyrically relevant song, and Ziggy’s sisters pulled off dexterous dance moves during the instrumental interludes.
The band then played “I Don’t Want to Live on Mars” from the new album. The song features some prime, rockin’ guitar chords and also fun lyrics: “I don’t want to drive space cars/ I only want to be with you … Even if the world went boom.”
Ziggy altered the mood and sang “So Much Trouble in the World,” which was something of a plaintive mood-shifter. But he followed with “I Get Up,” which features the simple, upbeat refrain: “I get up, I get up/ every day … So smile with the sunrise/ There’s a lot of life to live.”
“Moving Forward,” also from the new album, was a positive motivator as well.
The band then ventured into holy father territory with “Lively Up Yourself,” a Bob Marley song. As he closely resembled and nearly embodied his dad onstage, it became pretty evident that Ziggy Marley is the rightful heir to the reggae master’s throne. In fact, over the years he has proven himself, met and exceeded expectations, even surpassing his father in number of chart hits and age – Ziggy is 45; his father died at 36.
Ziggy sang “True to Myself” and “Tomorrow People,” his first huge hit which got the crowd dancing. “Give it Away” was a touching and unexpectedly deep commentary about love: “Only if we give it away/ Can love be love.”
Then Ziggy and the band shifted into extremely familiar territory, performing “One Love,” a Bob Marley classic. Next was “Look Who’s Dancing” from 1989, which, honestly, sounds just like “Tomorrow People,” only with a faster beat.
“Shalom, Salaam” was an insightful song that was topical and resonant: “Gaza cries all the tears from her eyes/ Will there be no peace for the children of Palestine?” Ziggy isn’t afraid to get political at times, particularly with his calls for revolution.
But then, tunes like “On a Beach in Hawaii” are pretty apolitical and satisfy the feel-good party types.
Ziggy did another Bob cover with “Iron Lion Zion,” which reflects Rastafarian beliefs and has a mantra-like, repetitive chorus. He closed with “Fly Rasta,” the title track from the new album. As the band was jamming and winding things down, Ziggy’s young kids came out onstage to play instruments. It was a cute sight.
Did Ziggy hold a candle to his father Bob? Sure. But it’s also hard to compete with an icon, someone who’s been idolized since his death 33 years ago. Plus, the use of some pre-recorded vocals in the final song wasn’t that impressive.
Overall, though, Ziggy and his band delivered. The Marley legacy is alive and well.
The concert – which also included L.A.-based opening act The Expanders – was over by 10:07 p.m., a little early for the weekend live music world. But it was a perfect time to unleash the bleary eyed, munchie-hungry masses upon the OC Fair with its wild and greasy culinary concoctions.
For the original report go to http://www.ocregister.com/articles/ziggy-629352-band-marley.html