Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale
Things to do at a reggae show advertised to start at 11 but doesn't get started until 2 in the morning: Attempt to identify strains of marijuana simply by odor. Watch dreadlocks grow before your eyes. Time how long the DJ/hype man will cut into the song to say something unintelligible. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three...
The album release party for Anthony B's Tribute to Legends at Revolution Live kicked off forty five minutes after Cinderella's curfew and horses reverted into mice. South Florida's Mixed Culture finally got the party started. The band of six played roots rock reggae, preached to the audience that weed is not a drug but a medicine, and stayed with the theme of the night of paying tributes to legends by going into a worthy rendition of Bob Marley's "War." But as their set ended, we had another hour to kill before any other musician's feet touched the stage. A long enough time where even the most prepared Rastaman might be running low on his stash.
At 2:15, the music started again. A solid band of a drummer, guitar, bass, three women backing singers, and two men on keys kept the rhythm as singers cycled in and out. Romain Virgo brought a youthful energy while Freddie McGregor with his gray beard brought a wizened sage's voice to the festivities. Finally at 3:15, a woman walked on stage and asked the crowd, "Are you ready for the album release of the century?" Since no one shouted that their hearts couldn't handle anything of such hyperbole, she asked a second question, "Are you ready for Anthony B?"
Shouts and screams, and then because we hadn't been waiting long enough, the first song featured the man of the hour singing offstage. But dressed in garb that could have been taken from Andre 3000's "Hey Ya" video, Anthony B sprinted on to the stage in a bright green shirt, casual neck tie and jacket, and a man-bag hanging from his shoulder hued with the colors of Jamaica and a marijuana leaf. Bringing energy that betrayed the late hour and animated dance moves such as the running in place five feet from the ground that Scooby Doo once did, and a head-bobbing shimmy of Woody Woodpecker, one had to wonder if the early morning's tribute to legends was a reference to old cartoon characters.
Anthony B explained to the crowd that his new album, Tribute to Legends, was in fact in honor of his favorite musicians. And his version of "Stepping Razor" did justice to Peter Tosh's fury and his "Real Situation" carried Bob Marley's determination. Less successful was his reggaefied rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine," which felt like a wedding band's performance on a Caribbean cruise, even if he did infect the song with some humor by adding the lyrics, "Imagine there's no Facebook or iPhones too," which drew as many laughs as boos from the fans filming him with their camera phones.
But the only aspect that deserved true boos of an otherwise inspired performance was the audience not getting as much music as deserved. With doors closing at 4, Anthony B only spent 45 minutes on the stage, which wasn't a fitting tribute to anyone.