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Monday, June 7, 2010

Reggae Captures Chicago's Soul [PHOTOS BELOW]

Written by and photos by TIFFANY ZACK   
Monday, 07 June 2010

The spirit of Jamaica was alive and well last Wednesday, as 64-year-old Toots Hibbert and the 2010 version of the Maytals took stage at a packed House of Blues in Chicago. The show was the first of a two-night run, with reggae band Steel Pulse, as both bands delivered the message of peace, hope, and prosperity to all.

Hibbert and the original Maytals formed back in the early 60's and have continued to impress generation after generation. Considered one of the greatest reggae influences, Hibbert's vocal stylings are stacked among legends Bob Marley and Otis Redding. Though, the original Maytals line-up has differed over the course of the last few decades, their performance with Hibbert are always rock solid and well delivered.

Steel Pulse worked the crowd earlier in the evening. One of the most popular reggae acts to descend out of England, Steel Pulse, like Toots and the Maytals, have been staples in the reggae scene. Forming back in the mid-70's, Steel Pulse is linked to roots reggae, a form of reggae music that concentrates more on the spiritual side of Rastafari. Lead singer and frontman David Hinds has found away to touch all with his strong lyrics on hope and activism.

For the second set and headliner for the first night, Toots and the Maytals took center stage. Fans were greeted by Hibbert in an outstanding all red suit and a large grin, backed by his five-piece band and two background vocalists. The energetic performance was a well balanced collection of his early gospel roots, soul, ska, and reggae stylings. A charismatic Hibbert spent his time not only performing on stage, but consistently reaching out to the audience for quick handshakes. His admiration for his fans left smiles on the audiences faces for the rest of the evening. Hibbert worked the crowd, continuing to produce hit after hit, leaving the crowd to sing, dance, clap and at times throw their arms up in praise.

The show opened with some of the classic hits, including, " Pomps and Pride" and " Time Tough," which got the crowd moving right off the bat. " Reggae Got Soul" and " Pressure Drop" were some more of the fan favorites performed that evening. Members of the audience delighted Hibbert as he pushed the microphone out for fans to sing the hits, leaving Hibbert grinning ear to ear. Dancing along stage the entire evening with Hibbert were his two female background vocalists; it's apparent that not only does reggae got soul, but Hibbert still does too.


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