melody makers

NEW YORK - As we walked through the gates into the Summerstage venue I could feel the stressful feelings melting away - work, traffic and the crowded streets of midtown Manhattan were behind us now, we were at the show. The Ghetto Youth Crew was flowing through their set with familiar confidence. We settled down outside the main seating area and felt the full days heat rising from the ground. Extreme temperatures had been affecting the US in what has turned out to be a record breaking summer on the heat index -- but this wasn't to deter Ghetto Youth and the Melody Makers tonight.

central park The intermission between the Ghetto Youth set was just long enough to get refreshments, browse the merchandise and meet some new people. Activity onstage excited the crowd and the band took up their instruments. Immediately Ziggy appeared on the stairs leading up to the stage, clutching his acoustic guitar - apparently his new favorite -- eager to get started. The rest of the Melody Makers were close behind and following their customary prayer, the band sang and danced their way into their groove with the chant "Feeling Irie". As they started the show with "Beautiful Day" from the new "Spirit of Music" album, I could really hear the message he was giving -- and I did "take some time". Ziggy greeted the crowd and quickly broke into "Natural Mystic." Steven then stepped forward for "Jah Bless". "Gone Away" another new tune from "Spirit of Music" followed, delivered in an intense and soulful manner.

Next we were thrilled by "Rainbow Country" and Stephen's new "One Good Spliff," which is sure to be a staple in the Melody Makers lineup. Ziggy once again brought us back to "The Spirit" with "Higher Vibration" -- a song we New Yorkers can relate to: "These city walls are like a prison (his hand extended toward the barely visible structures) Why we gotta keep on living, with our backs against the wall."

After the classic "Tomorrow People" Stephen again took command with "All Day All Night" as Sharon, Cedella and Erica supported him with terrific vocals and expressive moves. The crowd roared in delight and as Ziggy seemed to be looking around at his siblings contemplating 'what next?', they all drove into "Africa Unite". Considering the economic and political troubles affecting Africa today, it was an appropriate selection, and the crowd responded by singing along.

The Melody Makers shined again with "Look Who's Dancing" followed by "Postman" with Stephen stepping up to the mic with this black electric guitar (have you seen the stickers on this guitar?). A solid "People Get Ready" came next as Ziggy, Steven, Sharon and Cedella soulfully lead the crowd to sing along in a manner to make Curtis Mayfield proud. Stephen's guitar work on "Jammin" delighted us all. Junior Gong joined in for "Day By Day" with his ragga style contributions. The band took their time with my favorite "Born To Be Lively" and acknowledged each band member 'doin his/her thing'. As the song drew to a close Sharon turned her hand in a waving motion and I knew I'd better get some bottled water to replace what I had sweat out. Someone on line for concessions asked "how late will this go on?" I could not help but exclaim "Play all night!". After a brief break they returned for an encore with a song from the new album, perhaps the most reggae sounding track "Let Jah Will Be Done", and as I took note of the song on my little note sheet I noticed some people leaning over to see the title. I remember thinking the record stores would be jammed with people looking for this wonderful new CD. The show concluded with "Could You Be Loved" in traditional Marley tour fashion with the children pouring onto the stage to sing and dance. Sharon, Cedella and Erica once again gave strong vocal performances in this concluding number. Parents can be proud of the way the Marleys herded the children offstage when they seemed to be right at home and ready to do more! As the crowd spilled out of Central Park and onto Fifth Avenue, I sensed their stressful feelings had also been laid to rest.

-Fan review by TC

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