Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Toots and the Maytals, The Dome, Brighton, Last Friday

The Maytals took their positions; two very senior gentlemen on bass and guitar respectively, a younger guitarist and keyboard player, then in bounced Toots' daughter to sing a couple of songs. The first one, Our Day Will Come, is a favourite of mine, but I became anxious when she started a second song in case this was a revue instead of a concert. She had a lovely voice, but it was the old geezer I'd come to hear.
There he was! In fine voice, in fine fettle. From time to time, he picked up an acoustic guitar and thrashed out what sounded like it was going to become a Stones-type rock song, and which would then miraculously evolve into one of their hits.
They were out of synch for a couple of songs, and then got into their groove.
Where the enormous support band had had fabulous sound, the Maytals were marvellously tinny. At first, I was cross and then I realised that they sounded exactly like their records. It was deliberate. They had brought Jamaica with them to this big venue full of white people, and set it up on stage with them.
Toots was a naughty chap- he frequently held the microphone level with his navel, probably giving the sound engineer a series of heart attacks; there was the occasional keening hoot as the engineer pushed the fader up to catch his vocal, but he didn't need to: the volume was there, coming from the belly with great timbral power and tunefulness.
The bass player and older guitarist remained immobile most of the time. Two female singers joined his daughter to sing BVs and occasionally the older guitarist was tempted into a smile.
This was a lovely, lovely place to be on a Friday night. The only thing I could criticise was the fact that eventually each song ended with a bounce-along festival-type speeded up bit, which was wildly bounced along to by the crowd, but I wanted the groove to last till the end of the songs.
Toots is just an amazing trouper, with a strong, sonorous voice, and mischievous glint in his eyes, a God-Fearing' point to the rafters from time to time, and a humble ease of delivery that brought me to tears in Funky Kingston.
I wasn't going to write about them because I've been at a bit of a low ebb recently, but I was talking to someone about them today. I bought their CD three times; Offsprog One went to art college with one, so I had to buy it again. Then Offsprog Two did the same.
Look, if you've never listened to Toots and the Maytals before, please do it now. They are the hit-musicest, most positive-sounding, life-affirming set of musicians you could ever hope to listen to; they really are.

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