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Michael Deacon reviews Damian Marley at the Carling Academy, Brixton

Posted by roots-ee 
Marley Junior's triumphant mix of rage and joy
(Filed: 03/03/2006)

Michael Deacon reviews Damian Marley at the Carling Academy, Brixton

The gentle lilts and sways, the loose-limbed breeziness, the beatific crooning: reggae is commonly thought of as summer music. This wasn't.

Partly because images of a sun-dazzled Caribbean beach are hard to conjure in a dark, unbreathable armpit of a venue on a bitingly cold night in Birmingham; but also because for Damian Marley, the 27-year-old youngest son of reggae deity and Jamaican national hero Bob Marley, his genre has little to do with the happy-go-lucky hedonism of popular cliché. It's about anger, pain, politics, energy and a hunger for change that is as much social as spiritual.

Whatever he achieves - and in his short, three-album career to date he's already picked up a hat-trick of Grammy awards - Marley can never expect to match the sales or acclaim of his father. But he doesn't appear in the least uncomfortable about this, or to want to distance himself from those shadow-casting family glories. (He even calls himself "Junior Gong", after his father's nickname Tuff Gong.)

Having said that, his music is less like his father's than a first- time listener would expect. Aside from Move!, on which he actually samples Marley Senior (it's the Wailers' 1977 hit Exodus), there's little of the family knack for easy, soul-hugging tunefulness. Instead, Junior barks and raps, furious both in speed and in tone.

Where Bob's most famous lyrics were often timeless, Damian's are firmly of the moment, tackling everything from worldwide religious conflict to media manipulation. "If you're over 10 and watch CNN and believe everything, you're in too deep," he warned here on In 2 Deep. "A ghetto education's basic, and most of the youths waste it - and when dem waste it, that's when dem take the guns to replace it," he spat on a choleric version of his biggest hit, last year's Welcome to Jamrock.

That's not to say he has no sense of fun. One member of his backing band was employed to spend the full 90 minutes of the show enthusiastically - almost comically - swishing a Rastafarian flag.

And for all the aggression of the words, his rhythms were insistently danceable, from the woozy, ambling bass of We're Gonna Make It to the brisk bounce of The Master Has Come Back. At the centre of it all, through a slightly sickly haze of Zionist red, green and yellow stage lights, jerked the silhouette of Marley, his monstrous tarantula of dreadlocks bobbing with every air-punch - a strange but triumphant mixture of rage and joy.
Good overview of Damian, but what did you think about the actual show?
Re: Michael Deacon reviews Damian Marley at the Carling Academy, Brixton
March 08, 2006 04:15AM
>where can i apply for the 90 minute night job of waving the ites red, gold & green flag*
>just a thought for garnish*

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