Headlining the Playstation stage on Friday at Lollapalooza was reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. While he may not be the most well known reggae star, his contributions to popular soundtracks such as Cool Runnings and The Harder They Come have helped cement his anthems into the minds of even the youngest attendee at the fest. The fact he’s been covered by everyone from The Clash to Bruce Springsteen doesn’t hurt his credentials either.
With an incredibly large backing band of proficient players it was readily apparent that Cliff’s set at Lollapalooza would be pitch perfect. Thankfully, this was not an unfair assumption.
When the 62-year-old Cliff took he did so with a smile so wide he made everyone in the area feel welcome, as if they were in the company of a close friend. With this grin on his face Cliff proved that even as he gets up there in age he can still dance, jump and run across stage as if he wasn’t a day past 20.
Cliff’s set was slathered with some of his very greatest hits. Songs such as “I Can See Clearly Now” allowed for great call and response chants with the crowd. The fact that he busted out “You Can Get It If You Really Want” and “Many Rivers To Cross” only added to the huge sing-along that came from the front rows. With everyone in the earshot grooving to Cliff’s set it felt much more like a dance party than anything else encountered at Lolla.
While it can be hard to distill a 28 album into a little over an hour, Cliff did it with ease. By the time Cliff exited the stage it seemed as if he had much more gas in the tank. Cliff’s peaceable themes of unity proved that while Bob Marley may be the genre’s face, it is Jimmy Cliff that is the genre’s soul.