Ziggy Marley, Jethro Jeremiah
Nov. 7, 2014
The Fillmore, San Francisco
It must have been hard for Ziggy Marley to grow up in the shadow of a legend, which is how the collective pop culture psyche eventually decided to regard his father. Comparatively humble labels such as “poet” or even “rock star” would not suffice for Bob Marley: he was the patron saint of reggae, a revolutionary prophet, a messiah who brought the sound of the Third World to the masses. The fact that he has become the head of a cult over the decades obscures the more earthly detail that he was also an accomplished musician and renowned live performer. In this respect, Ziggy can count himself lucky. He hasn’t been distilled down to a two-dimensional set of ideals, a dreadlocked T-shirt design seemingly shorthand for wearers to proclaim “peace” or “love” or “I like weed.” Ziggy himself is an accomplished musician and live performer who can be recognized for those traits alone.
He demonstrated those traits clearly Thursday night at The Fillmore through a haze of pot smoke, proving he is much more than just the shadow of a legend. The charismatic performer captivated the audience for the full 100-minute duration, whether he was delivering a solemn, eloquent meditation on the deplorable state of the world and how love can be used as a “rebellion” against all the suffering and hate,” or whether he was leading his superb backing band through a supercharged version of “Could You Be Loved.”
Tearing through a mix of solo classics (“Personal Revolution,” “Wild and Free”) and some particularly fresh-sounding tracks off his latest LP Fly Rasta (“I Get Up” and a soul-stirring “I Don’t Wanna Live on Mars”), Marley did not lose the energy for a second. At times he even seemed to get lost in his own songs, entranced by the hypnotic rhythms, exhibiting a shamanistic dance on the dub-like jam “Conscious Party.” However, Marley is too much of a professional to lose himself too completely, and he could reign in even the wildest of his sonic arrangements with impressive ease.
The crowd somewhat predictably roared in approval when Marley pulled out a few of his father’s classics like “One Love” and “Iron Lion Zion,” but it was not due simply to sheer nostalgia or drunken recognition. It was because Ziggy performed the songs with such distinctive grace that you’d be forgiven if, for a moment, you believed the fabric of time had ripped apart before your very eyes and transported you to a 1975 Wailers concert. Okay, maybe that was just from all the ganja permeating the air. Either way, Marley proved that he is not only his own man; he is his own artist.