mutabaruka , the freedom l-ive band and riff salon , hosted by dwayne morgan as part of Kuumba at Harbourfront Centre, February 14. Tickets: $18. Attendance: 360. Rating: NNNN
As rastafarian people, their heads elegantly wrapped, milled and mingled around the Harbourfront Centre 's lobby observing artwork, tending to their children and enjoying organic Jamaican dishes, spoken word took over the expansive yet cozy Brigantine Room . Host Dwayne Morgan launched into a poem called Dr. CNN, one of the night's various statements against the mainstream media. Other poets shared Morgan's ability to blend empowered verbiage with smooth, melodious delivery.
The tone was set for the remainder of the evening: anti-propaganda, corporate-wary, impassioned, alive and proudly African.
The Freedom L-ive Band , led by vocalist/guitarist/percussionist Waleed Abdulhamid , stole through an hour of sweet reggae, with saxophonist Neil Brathwaite penetrating minds, bassist Andrew Steward rumbling souls. What elevated Freedom L-ive's set to a higher level were the special features - including guest percussionists, the Floetry-like guest duo of Tuku (a powerful, if slightly off-key Jill Scott) and Motion (one of the most multi-talented live MCs I've ever seen) - and a brave sense of humour.
After Abdulhamid refuted claims that Freedom L-ive played world music, he revelled in getting paid by the city to protest against former mayor Mel Lastman in front of City Hall, and one of his drummers assured the audience that Abdulhamid was not Osama bin Laden.
Sure enough, everyone realized at once that Abdulhamid looks exactly like bin Laden, down to the beard. It sent the crowd into peals of laughter, warming them up for the mighty headliner.
Mutabaruka boomed with wisdom and radiated good humour. Weaving prepared poetry into a more relaxed set about everything from white people's weird behaviour in movies (why do they attack each other and rip each other's clothes off when feeling passionate?) and the woes of the Whopper and the McNugget to the true meaning of Marley's music, Mutabaraka had people laughing until the end.