Who’s that little guy on stage? Admittedly not knowing what Anthony D’Amato looked like, I walked onto the venue’s main floor while a short, furry-faced man wearing a farmer hat and what looked like a poncho was belting out his song “Rain on a Strange Roof” all by his lonesome, accompanied by his solid vocals and acoustic guitar that he was just tearin’ UP. Regardless of his funky attire, D’Amato looked great up there, walkin’ and hoppin’ around on stage like he owned the bitch.
His indie folk-rock style of music was energizing and suitable for cranking up the audience before Mr. Marley and his crew of Melody Makers hit the stage. D’Amato’s flow was consistent and constant, often ending one song and diving right into the next. There was never a dull moment throughout the entire night. D’Amato’s interaction with the audience was short and humble, very much like himself. Modest and talented, his communication skills were tasteful – even when he tried making a really lame joke, reminding us that “[He] is in fact not Ziggy Marley.” Of course you’re not, Anthony, you’re a little, furry man with a poncho.
The sound quality was great, D’Amato’s vocals were strong, and his guitar strumming skills were ferocious. It was nice to see one man on stage able to rev up the audience, regardless of how old most of them were.
Between acts, the stage lights shined the traditional Rastafarian colours: red, green and yellow, which took me about forty-five minutes to realize, but I was quite moved once I did. Eventually, the nights dimmed and changed colours as the King of Reggae’s son himself was soon to take over. The band came on first, including two phenomenal female backup singers and the bongo man in the back with his bad-ass setup.
Finally, Ziggy Marley danced onto the stage. As the clouds of doobage emitting from the crowd screened the masses, getting little old ladies contact-high, Marley grabbed his mic and grooved into “Wild and Free.” The gang kept burning through the tracks one after the other, consecutively pumping out songs like “Forward to Love,” “Personal Revolution,” and “Heaven Can’t Take It” before even addressing the audience. When he finally did, the words he spoke were wise and enlightening. The entire set was spiritual. I felt like I was being blessed and pardoned of all my sins. Does attending a Marley experience make me an official Rastafarian? “Yes,” you say?! Most of Marley’s utterances and speeches often ended with a moral, kind of like how my dad ends 90% of meaningful conversations I have with him. His words were motivational, as well as great segues into songs such as “Tomorrow People” and “True to Myself.”
With the band playing phenomenally, the backup singers beautifully singing and dancing in total synch with each other, and Ziggy tearing up the stage with his own joyful dance moves, there was ample energy projecting both on and off the stage that night. The audience members were loving it, especially the drunk, old, white French dudes behind me attempting to sing songs they were most likely only hearing for the first time that night. With such a diverse crowd, it at times felt like a Caribbean festival held at a resort, only with a lot more marijuana than usual.
There’s no way this show was ending without Ziggy playing dad’s songs, and it didn’t. The first few notes of Bob Marley’s “One Love” further ignited the crowd, almost as much as “Is This Love’s” groovy bassline did when Ziggy re-integrated his dad’s repertoire after reverting back to his own songs, including the hit “Love Is My Religion.”
Giving one of his last speeches of the night, where he encouraged everyone to not let politicians, preachers, and our parents divide us, Ziggy closed with “We Are the People” and “Look Who’s Dancing.” He and the gang came back on stage for an encore to perform “Justice” mixed with a blend of “Get Up, Stand Up,” and finally closed with “Love is a Rebel.” Just as the Melody Makers started the show with Ziggy off stage, they closed the show minutes after Ziggy saluted the crowd.
Written by Keenan Kerr
*edited by Kate Erickson