Before the Fly Rasta Tour touched down at SOB’s, Ziggy Marley explored Miss Lily’s Variety and reloaded with a veggie punch from Melvin’s Juicebox on Houston Street. The bursting-at-the-seams SOBs crowd, geared up for his arrival with blazing musical selections of DJ Lady Fyahramma Thomas. Pat McKay from Sirus XM Radio brought more feminine fierceness into the building, showing her support in the crowd. Ziggy hit the stage fully energized and began the concert with the song, “Love is My Religion,” from his second solo album. The universal message disseminated through the crowd, as members of the audience shouted the lyrics in unison. “The main thing,” Ziggy said of this song, “its not the title where Ras Tafari fits into life or where Christianity fits or where Islam fits. Where does love fit?” Video & Review After The Jump…
The next tune, “Wild and Free,” fueled a 1970’s Hippie-like oneness amongst the crowd, a mix of first-hand smokers and those who inhaled a contact. The enlivened crowd fostered a celebratory spirit, especially with gradual progress in the movement for the legalization of marijuana. In 2011, Ziggy created a comic book, “Marijuana Man,” with the graphic artist Jim Mahfood (this artist also created the artwork on the Fly Rasta album), which flipped the image of the infamous green leaf into a superhero defending humanity and saving the environment. The following year, he launched Ziggy Marley Organics, with products like flavored coconut oils and hemp seed snacks that are 100% free of genetically modified ingredients. From its onset, this concert was an unequivocal conscious gathering of minds.
So when the six-time Grammy winner shouted, “Were gonna have a Conscious Party!” the New York City crowd greeted the news with a cheer and sang along to the lyrics of classic Melody Makers hits like, “Conscious Party,” “Tomorrow People,’ and “Look Who’s Dancing” as well as Ziggy tunes, “Still The Storms,” “Rainbow In The Sky,” “True to Myself,” “Personal Revolution,” “Black Cat,” and “Forward to Love.” This set also included songs off the new album, “Fly Rasta” including, ” I Don’t Want to Live on Mars, ” “I Get Up,” “Moving Forward” and “Give It Away.”
By the third set a natural mystic was apparent, as one could see smoke rising in the stage lights. The electrified crowd robustly sang the lyrics of “Reggae In My Head” and “Sunshine.” When the jazzy introduction of “Beach in Hawaii” came on, the crowd swayed to the hypnotic drumbeat like waves in water. Couples created binary ripples in space, some passionately kissing and dancing as Ziggy Marley belted out “Love is like an open sea and I wish you were here with me.”
One of the best aspects of the show included Bob Marley covers. Bob, the prophetic international icon created a matchless catalog of music ranging from spiritual to revolutionary to love songs. Continuing his father’s legacy, Ziggy beared the torch with song writing about the universal struggle for freedom. But something special occurred when Ziggy covered his father’s tunes at SOBs. Bobs’ thoughts, passions, meditations, vulnerabilities and greatest hopes became real and present in the atmosphere, as the NYC audience nearly went into convulsions. It felt as if Ziggy made the earth drop away beneath the crowd’s feet, when he revived classic hits like “So Much Trouble,” “Is This Love?” and “Ride Natty Ride;” Natty Dread Rides Again—Go deh Dready Go deh!
The final performance for the night, the new album’s title track, “Fly Rasta,” contained a spectacular African dance segment ignited by a powerful drum and rhythm session. It was a fitting end to an electric, out-of-this-world live performance in New York City.
Album Review: Fly Rasta, Ziggy Marley’s fifth studio album, took flight soon after its April 15, 2014 release on Tuff Gong World Wide, topping the Billboard Reggae charts. This comes as no surprise in terms of Ziggy’s track record, but the new album actually goes beyond his standard of exceptional lyrical content and quality of sound. The album was produced by Ziggy Marley, with additional production and mastering by Dave Cooley (Silversun Pickups, J Dilla), mixed by Andrew Scheps and engineered by Isha Erskine with additional engineering by Jared Hirshland. The 10 tracks on the album, range in style from easy listening to pop to jazz to rock and roots reggae—diverse sounds united by messages of hope and optimistic visions of a future filled with love.
“Fly Rasta is a little futuristic for me,” Ziggy has said of the album. “It tests the limits of traditional reggae musically, while lyrically, I’m writing a lot in these 10 songs about overcoming obstacles. They’re based on some of the tougher times I’ve been through and some require the listeners to read between the lines to get at the deeper meanings. It’s been many years since I sang with both my sisters and Erica (Erica Newell, back up singer on The Melody Makers tours) so I wanted to bring their distinctive style to the new album as well.”
With the alternative pop, rock sound of “I Don’t Want To Live On Mars,” Ziggy expresses that a man needs a woman’s love and if “women are from Venus and men from Mars,” he’s ready to board his rocket and do some space exploration to unite with his queen. The album’s title track features another “Fly Rasta” who soars above the rest, the legendary DJ “Daddy” U-Roy. Over a groove that incorporates a disco, reggae and rock vibe, Daddy Roy chats his classic jive talk: “Natty Gotta Hold Your Head Up Yeah!” This spiritual song draws lyrics directly from the Holy Bible, including the “Nazarene Vow,” Numbers, Chapter 6 and excerpts from Psalms, Chapter 1. “Lighthouse,” an easy listening song contains raspy vocals which kindles within us the great responsibility to be a beacon of light in the world, despite past and present atrocities. “Sunshine” contains warm lyrics that take you close to the sun as if riding on a bird’s wing. “Moving Forward,’ an uplifting tune featuring Ian “Breezy” Coleman warns about getting all caught up in a hurtful past.
Ziggy takes it up a notch lyrically with the love ballad, “You” whose thought-provoking lyrics are about searching and then haphazardly discovering an overlooked love. “So Many Rising’ and “I Get Up, “ the later featuring Ziggy’s big sister Cedella Marley, are more inspiring tunes. In the ninth song, “You’re My Yoko, ” Ziggy commends the iconic love between Yoko Ono and the late, great John Lennon. The best friends’ unconditional and unconventional love, stands the test of time. The lyrics of the album’s final track, “Give it Away,” evokes the power of giving love, altruistically. “Only if we give it away can love be love; ” the lyrics of this album appeal to all audiences. With a rainbow of colorful song lyrics spanning across the genres, “Fly Rasta,” uniquely shows the depth of Ziggy Marley’s mind through a prism of music.
A masterful article that transported me to the concert with holi-deck fidelity and plumbed the depths of the album like a smoothly gliding diver picking off splendorous conches from the ocean floor.
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