Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Toots & the Maytals @ l'Olympia, Paris - October 2nd, 2018

I don't like reggae. These aren't the lyrics from Dreadlock Holiday, it's an actual statement. I genuinely don't like reggae. Most reggae artists get the cosmetics right: they all groove on that syncopated caribbean shuffle, sing about the evils of Babylon and the miracles of ganja and sing ayo, ayoyo yo during the chorus. And in the process, they forget to write actual songs. In that respect reggae is very similar to heavy metal, where most bands have the right sound, the right speed, the right image and are completely devoid of anything memorable beyond their intro riffs.

Obviously, in metal as in reggae, some artists do manage to have the whole package and there is no denying the genius of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Jimmy Cliff and of course Frederick Nathaniel "Toots" Hibbert and his Maytals.

Of course the original Maytals are long gone and in their stead stand a handful of professional sidemen. But Toots is still here, well into his seventies, singing the wonderful songs he wrote so long ago: Pressure Drop, 54-46 Was My Number, Pomp And Pride, Monkey Man, Funky Kingston and their fantastic cover of Louie Louie.

They also played a few new songs which didn't particularly stand out but how could they compare to those legendary classics? The crowd seemed to be having a great time, although it was hard to tell under all that smoke. 

I left the venue feeling euphoric, but I suspect it was as much the contact high as the music.

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