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Thursday, 04 April 2013 19:30

Concert review: Toots and the Maytals prove ageless at the Old Rock House, Wednesday, April 3

Concert review: Toots and the Maytals prove ageless at the Old Rock House, Wednesday, April 3 tootsandthemaytals.com
Written by Tyler Williamson
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Fredrick "Toots" Hibbert, freshly into his 7th decade and still not taking his sunglasses off at night, led the Maytals and the crowd through an on-point run through the definitive "Pressure Drop" before ending it with some James Brown inspired moves; a microcosm of their much-appreciated stop at the Old Rock House.

Staccato dance moves from the frontman seemed to direct the drums to end each song - that is, if the song didn't unexpectedly shift into a disco groove - an exhibition of the group's intimacy. Toots, ever ready, seemingly couldn't wait to get to the sing-along portion of each tune, whether that meant adding it on the spot or not.

Two backup vocalists, the bass and the rhythm guitarist rounded out the troupe, with keys, at least two guitars - the third from Toots, only after leading his congregation through half the show - and the glue-guy drums taking up the rest of the venue's stage.

The group, nodding to the hits of the day during the outfit's formation, strolled through their rendition of "Louie Louie" before another jarring disco jaunt to conclude the fingerprinted cover. The group's reggae continually came across as more welcoming of a brass section than any steel drums. The origins of ska showing through, it had the heads - in various states of sobriety - nodding constantly through the night. While the pit seemed responsible for the aromas expected, the balcony seemed to have traded its spliff in for kids - a gesture of the Maytals influence through the decades.

Walking off-stage for approximately 30 seconds, Toots apparently didn't want to leave. Reassuring the recently awakened crowd, he started the encore by crooning "I never wanna go home."

Toots presence - he wore a Hell's Angels unapproved denim two-piece, complete with white patent leathers and elbow pads - wasn't complete until he walked out. Having taken a smoke break - I heard the set closer muffled from the patio - I was lucky enough to shake the hand of the legend and recent recipient of the Order of Jamaica. Adorned in a knee-length black fur coat and with his backup vocalists on his heels, the Honourable Fredrick "Toots" Hibbert stole away to a half dozen "thank you's" -- with a crowd still entranced.

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