Date:Tuesday, September 25th, 2012
Line up: Stephen Marley & Spragga Benz
Location: The Ogden Theatre. Denver, CO
All the positivity and charisma on stage that the legend Bob Marley displayed through his music, his second son Stephen Marley lives up to those same musical comparisons.
The attendees knew exactly what was about to unfold before their eyes and ears, and even the rain, cold and an ordinary Tuesday night in Denver, CO didn’t hurt the venue’s total through the gates. From the railing against the stage, all the way up to the second level balcony, fans’ eyes were fixated on the stage, and for good reason. Both the night’s musical acts were worthy of fighting through the weather. With a performer like Stephen Marley’s name draped across the bright marquee, and with a rising reggae/dancehall artist, Spragga Benz opening the festivities, The Ogden Theatre crowd was on the brink of their 1,700-person limit.
It was an awfully good idea for the crowd to arrive early with Kingston, Jamaica’s Spragga Benz hitting the stage at 8pm sharp. If you haven’t had the chance to take a listen to a couple of the dance-hall artist’s tracks, Benz has been releasing albums since 1994. With plenty of experience notched under his belt, his live performance exhibited the proper energy and rising action leading up to Stephen Marley. It was no doubt a pleasant surprise for most in attendance arriving in large part to Stephen Marley.
Most music fans keen on the sounds that Bob Marley belted out from the microphone consider Ziggy Marley’s voice to be the closest replica of the “King of Reggae”. But, while listening to Stephen erupt at the mic, both his father’s lyrics and his own original words turned to music, the different vocal generations meshed with precision. Taking it a step further, the onstage mannerisms and physical presence that Stephen rocked similarly mirror the image of the late great reggae legend.
Musically, as a backing band, the names don’t flow off the tongue as easily as instrumental professors in the likes of Carlton Barrett, Aston “Family Man” Barrett, Al Anderson, Junior Marvin and many more. But, during the live performance the eight members behind the dreaded Marley played the part of The Wailers just fine. Again, this wasn’t a cover show for all of Bob’s classic hit songs; Stephen Marley has a broad musical catalog in his own right. With his own hits, Stephen ran through tunes like “Chase Dem”, “Break Us Apart”, “Iron Bars”, “Mind Control” and plenty more.
It was nearly 45-minutes into the headlining set in Denver and not a single song from his father was performed, and nobody was complaining. Although, once the intro to “Buffalo Soldier” began, the excitable crowd erupted and began singing the lyrics word for word. It was that retrospective moment where everyone joins in and becomes one with the music, the lyrics and the message of love. For songs that might have been originally recorded to be four minutes long were transformed into six or seven minute crowd choir practice throughout the cheerful choruses of “Jamming” and “Redemption Song”
One special feature that Stephen added to “Redemption Song” was bringing out his son, or as he was introduced as “the next lion from the jungle”, to sing by Stephen’s side. In essence, three generations of musical Marleys, and nearly 2,000 of their closest friends, sang together in one voice. Not long after, Spragga Benz returned to the stage as well as the tri-colored Rasta flag with the Lion of Judah waving in the brightly lit lights of the Ogden Theatre backdrop.
The overall theme of the night was a complete and total showcase performance. From before Stephen Marley entered the spotlight at the front of the stage, each instrumentalist emerged from the backstage area, picked up their instruments, and one by one began playing their part in the show, including the two female back-up vocalists. Everyone in the crowd was already swaying and dancing to the beat, but it was tough to decipher if the ladies were better dancers or singers, because both of them had awfully angelic voices to couple with Marley’s voice. The moves they happened to display only riled up the crowd even further.
But, to be honest, the crowd was there to sing, too. For good portions of the show, Stephen Marley backed away from the microphone just to adore the echoing crowd chant each lyric. However, reggae music is all about the movement, and over thirty years after the passing of Bob Marley, both his music and his sons’ music has thousands of fans continually gathering to join in the skanking and take part in the chanting. No matter who’s lyrics they are, a Marley is still wailing away on the microphone and strumming the guitar, just like a legend.
Stephen Marley’s Set List: (In No Particular Order)
She Knows Now
Break Us Apart
+ Many More
Three Little Birds
Made In Africa
Article By: Kris Siuta
Photos By: Ty Hyten
More Photos From The Night…