Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Jimmy Cliff Busts Open the Bandshell

Jimmy Cliff kicked off the 34th season of Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park tonight with a set of favorites. You'd never know that Cliff is 64 the way he dances rambunctiously around the stage. While his voice sometimes went a little flat in his old age (He was never one to hold back, so he still belts this shit out of his songs.), the show was fun and full of energy. The backing band was solid, with a real horn section, including a trumpeter that toasted and sang.

Leaping right out of the gate with "You Can Get It If You Really Want" set the tone for the hit parade that was to come. Following that with a cover of Rancid's "Ruby Soho" was an inspired choice, charging my brain with the task of figuring out who had actually written the song. The first of three medleys came next, a Special-themed one going from "Treat the Youths Right" into "Rub-a-Dub Partner" to "Reggae Movement" back into "Rub-a-Dub."

Listening to Cliff on my iPod this morning, I wondered if Cliff would play "Viet Nam." "Yesterday I got a letter from my friend fighting in Vietnam," doesn't exactly reek of topicality in 2012. As if he read my mind from the B train, Cliff changed the song to "Afghanistan," even going so far as to sing, "Yesterday I got an email." I guess snail mail is even out-of-fashion in Jamaica.

Jimmy skanked all the way along the amphitheater stage for a ska medley of his early '60s singles "King of Kings" and "Miss Jamaica," but the real audience treat was the set-closing mash-up of the Medlodians' "Rivers of Babylon" and Cliff's own "Bongo Man." Leading everyone on stage on hand drums and everyone in the crowd on vocals, Cliff saturated the air with such a communal vibe, one could not help but feel "irie."

JIMMY CLIFF – 06.05.12 – PROSPECT PARK BANDSHELL (1 hour, 33 minutes)


You Can Get It If You Really Want / Ruby Soho / Treat the Youths Right > Rub-a-Dub Partner > Reggae Movement > Rub-a-Dub Partner / Wild World / Rebel Rebel / Save Our Planet Earth / Afghanistan (Viet Nam) / World Upside Down / King of Kings > Miss Jamaica / Many Rivers to Cross / Let Your Yeah Be Yeah / I Can See Clearly Now / Rivers of Babylon - Bongo Man Mash-Up


One More


One More


The Harder They Come / Sitting in Limbo / Wonderful World, Beautiful People

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