reggaemovement.com 07 Feb 2013

Alpha Blondy and Luciano Give Denver a 1-2 Punch, Sending the Region into a Reggae Coma

Denver was treated to an amazing combination of reggae artists this past weekend, with roots reggae legends Alpha Blondy and Luciano coming to Colorado and playing on back to back nights, putting all reggae fans into music induced coma by the time the smoke cleared.

Up first, on the Friday Night, was Alpha Blondy at the Ogden Theatre. Bringing to stage a playful tone with political intonations which creates a bubbly output and puts smiles on a crowd’s face, The reggae rocker from Ivory Coast already enjoys a lofty status within the music realm; and with no wonder featuring a collection of indelible hits that spans 4 decades. Combine that with killer bass and horns from the Solar System band and you have a recipe for a remarkable night.

It is cliché to call a show epic, or the ‘show of the year’ so soon, but there are also few times when a crowd and an artist can come together to enjoy the moment so vividly. From Sweet Fanto Diallo to Cocody Rock, Sebe Allah Ye, Politiki and Rendezvous, Alpha Blondy ticked off hit after hit in his multilingual approach. Even the sprinkling in of the music from his pending album --Mystic Power due out July 30th – halted nothing from the momentum that those types of incursions might happen to do at a concert. Instead, his new music seamlessly fit right in without missing a beat.

Alpha Blondy at The Ogden, 6/28/2013Alpha Blondy’s voice is as powerful as ever, and his delivery on point. From years of experience, he has the talent to keep his rabid fans consumed in his every action. Every arm movement and every step eliciting excited response from fans overjoyed at the opportunity to witness him live. Alpha Blondy was on top of his game, and the crowd was savouring every second.

Dubskin helped to set the stage for Alpha Blondy, opening up and giving fans a taste of their unique vibes from Colorado. Certainly the one most identifiable band within the young genre that is Colorado Reggae, Dubskin hardly ever fails to bring a rootsy, earthy vibe sound that resonates deep within.

Luciano at the Gothic, Luciano was up next on the Saturday of this weekend of wonderful reggae. The emphatically proud roots singer from Jamaica has consistently been one of the most requested reggae acts to see live, and he showed why at the Gothic Theater.

The minute that Luciano steps onto a stage, he quietly and subtly takes charge of the crowd; the quiet part ironic because with a crystal clear, powerful voice, he could easily let his voice speak for himself. But combining a powerful stage presence that demands attention, with his deep, melodically tone, he sets the foundation for the night by shaking the hands of everyone in the front row, as if to say “hello there, we’re all in this thing together.”

“Jah Messenger,” as Luciano is known, is about as appropriate nickname one could find. Cool Ruler for Gregory Isaacs might be top, but that’s another story. Using his impressive and captivating voice, he takes you to a spiritual Xanadu of reggae music; to a time where conscious lyrics still mattered as he sweeps over your soul with a gospel reggae that befits his moniker.

Backing Luciano and giving an opening set of about 20-30 minutes was I-kronik, who has been hailed as one of the new generations of Jamaican bands bringing new roots from the rock. With all the criticism of the supposed diluted style of American reggae from devoted historical minded reggae heads, it is interesting to hear a Jamaican band infuse the same rock grooves and rock guitar across their music much as their American counterparts. I-kronic has talent, and played a bit more than half cover tunes – nicely selected cover tunes like Satta Massagana and Culture’s Jah Jah See them Come—and have refreshingly embraced the progressive style of the day.

Ras Marcus Benjamin, with his Nyambingi Warriors, have attempted to bring back the dormant Dub Poetry genre (made popular by Linton Kwesi Johnson and Mutaburuka in decades past.) Based on Ras Benjamin’s collection of poetry over the past 30 years, it has been a lifelong project in the making. While it is impressive to see the growth since inception in the past year, such an approach can make maintaining focus a challenge. Lulling and repetitive meditative drums and a heavy vocal approach may be more at home in a poetry house setting, yet leading into Luciano it helped build a sense of spiritual awareness and heightened focus of what was soon to come on stage.

All in all, the two acts were a wonderful way to spend the weekend. Alpha Blondy continues to show why his fans cannot get excited enough about him, and Luciano reinforced his commitment to the conscious genre within reggae. Those lucky to attend both were left on Sunday in a daze from over the top reggae.

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