Nokia Theater, NYC
May 11, 2007
Aside from the musical abilities that Bob Marley bestowed upon his children, he also gave them unmatched charisma, showmanship and the power to connect with a crowd. Stephen Marley graced the stage of NYC’s Nokia Theater with his own interpretations of Bob’s stance, vocal characteristics and movements, while playing to a crowd that hung on every word. But Somalian born rapper K’Naan, who put hip-hop to the djembe drum, was first to oil up the sold-out crowd. His energetic backing group fused hip-hop with African rhythms and Ethiopian funk, much like what Digable Planets did with rap and jazz in the ’90s. K’Naan’s hyperactive flow, old school flavor and creative, spoken word-like rhymes elevated the crowd preparing them for the Marley family.
Stephen approached the stage like a superstar, performing tracks from his debut solo album Mind Control, like “Chase Dem,” “Lonely Avenue,” the title track, and “Hey Baby.” But in a nod to the Nokia's Times Square location, he opened the set with Bob’s “Reggae On Broadway,” a more obscure tune than the mainstream Bob tracks he played later in the night. Bob’s spirit definitely descended upon the people as it manifested itself through Stephen—he played each tune as majestically as if you were seeing the father of reggae firsthand. He avoided seeming like he was pandering to the Legend crowd, despite playing “No Woman No Cry,” “Could You Be Loved,” and “Buffalo Soldier,” because his renditions were flawless. Marley also found time for his younger brother Damian (aka Jr. Gong) to squeeze in a few tunes of his own. Damian’s introduction delivered a nice contrast as the two offered their version of “Pimper’s Paradise,” as well as “All Night” and, of course, “Welcome To Jamrock.” The Marley family has created a powerful empire built on brilliant vibes, bright smiles and great music, and you could feel Bob looking down from his throne, overjoyed with the work he’d done.