Live Review: Toots and the Maytals at the Showbox

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Chad McCraine

On Friday night, reggae legend Toots Hibbert brought his strong reggae vibes to Seattle. The man is a workhorse and tours almost nonstop, mainly because he puts on such a good performance that promoters always bring him back. After the jump, check out Erin Thompson's review of Friday night's set. It sounds like he played a lot of his classic material and left everybody in good spirits.

Aging hippies, girls in sundresses, those douchey-looking frat guys in surf tees and backwards hats, ghetto kids, and strange hipsters wearing things like caftans and sunglasses inside! We were all gathered together underneath the Showbox's roof on Friday in the name of one man - Toots Hibbert, the legendary Kingston showman who famously pioneered the word reggae and was a part of its global movement back in the '60s.

The crowd was out for a second reason though - Friday night seemed to be a joyous celebration of the much-desired break in heat after the week's record temperatures. And appropriately enough, Toots kicked off his set with a beautiful performance of fan favorite "Pressure Drop," assuring us, "when it drops, you gonna feel it, oh yeah, pressure drop-a-drop on you!" Yes, please! Standing on stage there with a beatific grin, fist bumping audience members and flicking peace signs at us, he was like our savior from the heatstroking hell of the past week.

Toots, sporting a red sleeveless and rhinestoned jacket with a white bandanna, bounced along with more of his signature songs - "Monkey Man," "Reggae Got Soul" - a funky cover of "Louie, Louie," his own personalized islands version of "Country Roads" ("Country roads, take me home, to the place I belong - West Jamaica, my ol' mamma...") and a rousing performance of his prison jam, "54-46 Was My Number." Everyone was in Toots' gleeful thrall - his two young back-up singers emulated his trippy dance moves, the Maytals were solid all night, some folks in the audiences lit up joints and then sang along and waved their lighters at his behest; even the stage lights flickered Rastafarian reds, yellows and greens.

If anything stood out as much as the music did, it's how vibrant and alive Toots still is as a performer. Dude's in his 60s and had more energy than most people who are four decades younger than he is. So thanks, Toots, for stirring us out of our heat comas.

-Erin Thompson

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