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Issue 1084

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Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17

Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com
Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com Toots & the Maytals: Barbican Centre, London 28/7/17 @bluesandsoul.com

For a group founded more than half a century ago, Toots and The Maytals continue to be one of the hardest working acts in reggae.

Such is the role they played in shaping the genre that they were the first to give it a name on record, in 1968's "Do The Reggay".

Bob Marley & The Wailers may have hit the heights of commercial success, but Toots Hibbert and co were never far behind, and they continue to be relevant to this day.

The excellent "Unplugged On Strawberry Hill" album shows that Hibbert's voice remains the powerful instrument which helped propel the group to stardom.

Now at the age of 74, he shows no sign of slowing down, and the group continues to maintain a heavy touring schedule.

For their latest London show, the Barbican Centre was an excellent choice of venue - it boasts superb acoustics which gave Hibbert a perfect platform to fill the room which his soulful voice.

Ever a sharp dresser, he emerged onstage in a distinctive black and red biker-style outfit, looking impeccably cool in shades.

An early version of "Get Up, Stand Up" paid homage to Marley and co, but overall it was a night to show the huge back catalogue the Maytals have to their name.

"Pomp and Pride" remains a fantastic feelgood track nearly 50 years after it was first released, and sounded great.

Hibbert was in fine form, with a talented band of musicians behind him.

The years performing together certainly showed. Playing to a seated venue can always be tough, but the audience didn't remain in their seats for very long.

"Louie Louie" and "Fine and Dandy" sounded great before the band launched into a version of "Bam Bam".

Hibbert's voice has been likened to Otis Redding, and all these years later it's still a fair comparison. His vocals filled the room and had the crowd dancing, and "Bam Bam" - not an easy song to sing - sounded superb.

He's a very charismatic performer, and he had the audience in stitches recounted an occasion when he discovered a girl he was keen on in an embrace with a "very ugly" guy.

"I wrote a song about it," he said before the open bars of "Monkey Man" sounded.

It's a great track, later covered by Amy Winehouse, and sounded fantastic at the Barbican.

The group gave a lengthy performance, and were loudly cheered back onstage for the encore, during which they performed a rousing version of breakthrough track "54-46 That's My Number".

All these years after they first began performing together Toots and the band remain a force to be reckoned with. With no signs of the band letting up, the future looks great for the veteran reggae artists.

PHOTOS: DAVE BURKE
Words Dave Burke

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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