Toots and the Maytals: Is Never Was
Aldo Fonticiella
4/16/2006 10:24:19 PM

Toots and the Maytals
The Gargoyle, Washington University, St. Louis
April 14, 2006

Is Never Was

Who out there does not admire an original? How often do great music personalities of days passed grace us with their talents in such a personal setting? If you ever wondered what the name of the seed was that sprouted roots rock reggae, its name is Toots and the Maytals.

Down in the basement of the Mallinckrodt Center in Washington University you will find a place called the Gargoyle. The layout is okay, a descendent size room with several columns; it looks like it was part of the school cafeteria or something. The stage was hand made and the lighting was awesome especially on the drums. There was no seating, although some of the older fans got the venue to bend on that one. The concessions table only had Toots and the Maytals shirts, CDs including World is Turning [D & F Records], and even DVDs like Live at the Santa Monica Pier [Aalah Son Music Productions]; so if you were thirsty you had to find a water fountain or vending machine. What makes this venue special is that the students run it. Note to the smokers--bring your lighters for the show but keep the smoking outside.

Ticket sales started around 7 p.m. and it was obvious the show was going to be great success. Since most of the tickets were pre-sold, the show soon sold out. The beauty of reggae music is that it is enjoyed by literally all generations. The fan base of this legendary group were showing their numbers and audience members ranged from toddlers to fans in their fifties plus. The opening band the Southland was unable to perform due to exhaustion from performing so many times in succession. That's no problem--rest up and get well soon guys.

At 8 p.m. the lead guitarist Carl Harvey introduced us to “The inventor of the word reggae”, Toots Hibbert, and from beneath the screaming and clapping came the sounds of “Pressure Drop.” The feel of the sound was so raw that it was like traveling back in time to the dancehalls where this divine music originated. As soon as Toots started to sing almost everyone was dancing and singing along with the music.

On the agenda was “Reggae Got Soul” a song that reminds everyone of the timelessness that is reggae. To quote Toots, “Grandmother can do it, grandfather can do it…” So many in the crowd were so anxious to be face to face with these legends that one could start at front of the stage at the beginning of a song and end up half way to back of the crowd by the end of the number. Toots said before starting “Sweet and Dandy” that his music is “clean and good,” judging by the crowd’s reaction that I 'n I agreed.

The show went on to feature more classics like “Bam Bam.” The venue was so hot and crowded that instead of risking their spot to go outside and breath many a fan decide to go topless. Before starting "Never Get Weary", which soon became the anthem for the evening, Toots stated his message for the night “…believe in your college, believe in your teachers…once you’re doing the right thing you never get tired of doing the right thing.", The cover they played of John Denver’s “Country Road” is spectacular again with I N I skanking and singing together with the band. Night turned to day when Toots asked to see who carried lighters during “Irie”. “Monkey Man” was probably the liveliest song of the night as Toots dubbed the evening to be “Girls Night”, allowing several ladies to join this reggae sensation on stage, I stopped counting after 15. This might have been the end of a very spiritual evening if Toots had not convinced the opposing forces to “At least give me the chance to do two more numbers.” in his words.

The encore was “Ben Harper” and “5446” followed by a shout out to the Maytals.
The Maytals themselves are an event with the lovely backup vocalists Marie "Twiggi" Gitten and Leba Thomas. The exceptional instrumentations of Carl Harvey on the lead guitar; Radcliffe “Dougie” Bryan on the rhythm guitar; Charles “The Bulge” Farquarson and Norris “Computer” Webb on the keyboards; and Paul Douglas on the drum kit. This team of reggae kings shows no sign of slowing down pursing every song with the same energy that is found in the original recordings. Again, a definite must see for the whole family.

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