The night Ziggy Marley came to town

Charlotte Livingstone reviews Ziggy Marley’s gig at the Electric Brixton

Ziggy 600

Reggae is no stranger to Brixton and last month Brixton Electric welcomed an artist from reggae’s most well known dynasty.

In his career Ziggy – Bob Marley’s eldest son – has won five Grammys, recorded five studio albums and performed around the world. Now it was Brixton’s turn to hear him play in a gig to showcase his sixth studio album Fly Rasta. The album focuses on the state of the environment, calling on people to come together and protect it.

The Electric had a clear buzz in the air and a big mix of people: young, old, suited, casual. Everyone was very excited.

After support act Hollie Cook played (very well), the big set up started and two guitars, keyboard, drums, bongos, to name but a few of the instruments, were arranged on stage and ready to go. Then, at 9 o’clock on the dot, Ziggy arrived on stage and he was met with a huge wave of cheers and whistles. Looking very happy to be there he started with ‘Love Is My Religion’ from his second album of the same name. It was a cheerful start to what continued to be a cheerful set.

Next up was ‘Wild and Free’ from his fifth album of the same name which is all about ‘marijuana trees blowing in the breeze’ and ‘hemp fields forever blowing wild and free’. Ziggy was loving it and waved his arms around (like a marijuana tree probably). The smell of weed started to float around the Electric and everyone seems to be loving it. His voice does shine and you can totally hear the family ties in his vocal chords.

As a performer he really does give it his all, he’s a story teller in the way that he sings and you can tell he means every word. He almost acts every lyric out. This approach was echoed in his tight band that surrounded him. Each of them were dedicated to communicating the songs with conviction and enthusiasm. This was embodied the best by his two incredible backing singers who had a different dance routine/sway/gesture for each song. They were great and one of them even had a dance solo in the middle of one of his tracks, cheered on by the band and audience alike.

His set included a mix of songs from his different albums including ‘Rainbow in the Sky’ and ‘Look Who’s Dancing’ (which included a brilliant MC solo from one of the older members of his band) amongst others. The biggest cheer however undeniably came when the intro to ‘Is This Love’ came on. He and his band jammed in and around the intro, getting everyone revved up and then they launched in. He sped it up and truly made it his own – with the support of the whole of the Electric singing it with him.

After a few more tracks and everyone on and off stage dancing around, Ziggy waved goodbye and headed off stage. Obviously it wasn’t the end of that and the after the yells and whistles he came back on beaming and played a small selection of tracks including ‘Black Cat’ from Love Is My Religion, ‘Sunshine’ from Fly Rasta and finished on ‘Fly Rasta’ with Ziggy thrashing a symbol and clearly loving performing his new material to an enthusiastic audience.

His gig was fun, and while it might not have got the crowd fired up about the state of the environment, it did leave everyone with a big smile on their faces having enjoyed a genuine and positive set. Ziggy clearly loves what he does and has a fan base that loves him back for his own – separate – musical achievements.