He walked up the side-plank toward his band as they harmonized on the platform above Mandalay Bay’s crowded artificial beach. The size of the crowd had swelled to roughly 1,500 people strong, and it was antsy for the scion of reggae himself – David Nesta “Ziggy” Marley. Marley, a seven-time Grammy winner, grabbed the mike and hummed the start to “On a Beach in Hawaii.” It became a sing-along, even if Marley had not intended for it to be one. Love is like an open sea/And I wish you were here with me, he crooned, as the back-up singers moved in a smooth, fluid and sultry rhythm.
It must be hard bearing the name and legacy of his father Bob Marley. You see Ziggy and expect Bob. You imagine that the man here was him then. But it isn’t, and Ziggy has long since stepped out of his father’s shadow.
“We have some new tunes to hit your ears,” Marley said. With that, he launched into tracks from his recent studio album Ziggy Marley. It started with the mid-tempo, heavy bass themed “Butterfly.” His voice is a masculine powerhouse, with a gravel edge earned from years of toking. His face contorted with emotion as he dedicated “Move Forward,” a revolutionary song, to the late Muhammad Ali.
Many of Marley’s new songs seem to contemplate relationships—exploring how to be separate, yet together. Yet the prevailing mood of the evening was happy and light, with puffs of ganja smoke wafting through the clear night.
As the concert wound down, he implored the audience to “move forward to love.” He asked us to unify behind love and not be separated by religion, race and politics. He took a brief interlude while his bandmates jammed to the crowd, then, re-energized, he jumped into a string of hits, belting out “Love is My Religion,” “Look Who’s Dancing,” “Fly Rasta” and a cover of his father’s hit “Is This Love.”
The crowd, elevated, sang along along with enthusiasm. You could feel the palpitation of humanity, trying its best to be good. And in your heart, you know that this scion is the lion. ★★★★✩