Before Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff became reggae’s first international star with his standout performance in the 1972 Jamaican crime film The Harder They Come. Now 40 years later, Cliff appeared as youthful and energetic as ever during his poolside performance.
The 64-year-old opened with the uplifting “You Can Get It If You Really Want” from the Harder soundtrack, dancing, twirling and leaping around onstage like a man half his age, before dipping deep into his catalog, spanning from his ’60s ska days to his upcoming album, Rebirth.
Positive energy radiated from the 2010 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee in lively covers of Cat Stevens’ “Wild World,” Rancid’s “Ruby Soho” and “I Can See Clearly Now.” Even serious songs such as “Save Our Planet Earth” and the 1970 protest song “Vietnam,” reworked as “Afghanistan,” contained an underlying optimism that better days are ahead.
For the encore, Cliff performed “One More,” the first single from Rebirth, and encouraged the crowd to chant the title over and over before he left the stage for what everyone assumed would be a short break before “The Harder They Come.” But Cliff never reappeared, leaving fans dumbfounded and bringing an abrupt end to an otherwise inspiring evening. ★★★☆☆