erasing clouds

Live Review: Toots and The Maytals @ The Arches, Glasgow, Scotland, 30th June 2004

by anna battista

Like the story of the Skatalites, the story of Toots and the Maytals is rather colourful and a bit weird. They started their career in the early sixties, recording for Coxsonne Dodd, then worked with Prince Buster and later with Bryon Lee. They were quite successful but lead singer Toots Hibbert was arrested for smoking and possessing marijuana in 1966. The other members of the band waited for him to be released to continue making music and, as result of this, the band lay dormant for quite a while. When they finally started playing again, more successful hits followed for the joy of their fans. Toots and the Maytals recently resurfaced again with a new album, True Love, which features special guests such as Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Ryan Adams, Bonnie Raitt, Willie Nelson and Ben Harper.

Tonight in Glasgow, Toots' energy and dynamism seem to be at their best, almost as if not a single day had passed from the glorious '60s. As soon as he gets on stage he starts jumping around, dancing and cajoling the audience into clapping, shouting and singing after him. The music at the base of each track is reggae interspersed with elements of ska, pop and rock. During the gig the band plays the 1969 hits "Pressure Drop", "Sweet And Dandy" and "Monkey Man", which at the time were produced by Leslie Kong, but also the anthems "54 46 That's My Number" and "Reggae Got Soul", during which Toots points at people in the crowd shouting in his cavernous and sometimes quite bluesy voice, 'You've got soul', 'She's got soul', 'He's got soul' and so on.

The band gets back on stage for an encore which includes also a cover of John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads", which never seems to end. Indeed, while people start heading towards the exit thinking the gig is almost over or are just resting after dancing for a great part of the night, Toots is still relentlessly jumping around as if the gig had just started. It must be the power of reggae flowing in his veins, to give him such energy.

Issue 25, July 2004

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