NEW YORK - As we walked through the gates into the Summerstage venue I could feel
the stressful feelings melting away - work, traffic and the crowded streets of
midtown Manhattan were behind us now, we were at the show. The Ghetto Youth Crew
was flowing through their set with familiar confidence. We settled down outside
the main seating area and felt the full days heat rising from the ground.
Extreme temperatures had been affecting the US in what has turned out to be a
record breaking summer on the heat index -- but this wasn't to deter Ghetto Youth
and the Melody Makers tonight.
The intermission between the Ghetto Youth set was just long enough to get
refreshments, browse the merchandise and meet some new people. Activity onstage
excited the crowd and the band took up their instruments. Immediately Ziggy
appeared on the stairs leading up to the stage, clutching his acoustic guitar -
apparently his new favorite -- eager to get started. The rest of the Melody
Makers were close behind and following their customary prayer, the band sang and
danced their way into their groove with the chant "Feeling Irie". As they
started the show with "Beautiful Day" from the new "Spirit of Music" album, I
could really hear the message he was giving -- and I did "take some time". Ziggy
greeted the crowd and quickly broke into "Natural Mystic." Steven then stepped
forward for "Jah Bless". "Gone Away" another new tune from "Spirit of Music"
followed, delivered in an intense and soulful manner.
Next we were thrilled by "Rainbow Country" and Stephen's new "One Good Spliff,"
which is sure to be a staple in the Melody Makers lineup. Ziggy once again
brought us back to "The Spirit" with "Higher Vibration" -- a song we New Yorkers
can relate to: "These city walls are like a prison (his hand extended toward the
barely visible structures) Why we gotta keep on living, with our backs against
After the classic "Tomorrow People" Stephen again took command with "All Day All
Night" as Sharon, Cedella and Erica supported him with terrific vocals and
expressive moves. The crowd roared in delight and as Ziggy seemed to be looking
around at his siblings contemplating 'what next?', they all drove into "Africa
Unite". Considering the economic and political troubles affecting Africa today,
it was an appropriate selection, and the crowd responded by singing along.
The Melody Makers shined again with "Look Who's Dancing" followed by "Postman"
with Stephen stepping up to the mic with this black electric guitar (have you
seen the stickers on this guitar?). A solid "People Get Ready" came next as
Ziggy, Steven, Sharon and Cedella soulfully lead the crowd to sing along in a
manner to make Curtis Mayfield proud. Stephen's guitar work on "Jammin" delighted
us all. Junior Gong joined in for "Day By Day" with his ragga style
contributions. The band took their time with my favorite "Born To Be Lively"
and acknowledged each band member 'doin his/her thing'. As the song drew to a
close Sharon turned her hand in a waving motion and I knew I'd better get some
bottled water to replace what I had sweat out. Someone on line for concessions
asked "how late will this go on?" I could not help but exclaim "Play all night!".
After a brief break they returned for an encore with a song from the new
album, perhaps the most reggae sounding track "Let Jah Will Be Done", and as I
took note of the song on my little note sheet I noticed some people leaning over
to see the title. I remember thinking the record stores would be jammed with
people looking for this wonderful new CD. The show concluded with "Could You Be
Loved" in traditional Marley tour fashion with the children pouring onto the
stage to sing and dance. Sharon, Cedella and Erica once again gave strong vocal
performances in this concluding number. Parents can be proud of the way the
Marleys herded the children offstage when they seemed to be right at home and
ready to do more! As the crowd spilled out of Central Park and onto Fifth
Avenue, I sensed their stressful feelings had also been laid to rest.
-Fan review by TC