DAMIAN MARLEY with X-CLANat the Guvernment, November 28. Tickets: $40. Attendance: sold out. Rating: NNN
It's funny. you could go to a Death Cab for Cutie show with a loaded shotgun and no one would be any the wiser until Ben Gibbard was fixed in your sights. But because Damian "Junior Gong" Marley 's audience is "urban," entry to the Guvernment Monday night was classed up with a complete ankle-to-genitals fondling by security plus a thorough pocket-rummage at no extra charge.
This prolonged security detail, a precaution against all the Damian Marley fans thinking "Yo, lets smoke joints and then assault strangers while vibing out on sweet reggae music during a show we spent $40 on," was the chief reason for the sold-out event's round-the-block lineup and REMG -style foot/back-killing stand during the performance's three-hour delay.
So there was a gigantic release when Marley finally appeared at midnight, usurping the stage from his DJs, who'd been playing classic dancehall and roots reggae all night. While his bredren Stephen Marley 's five-piece thumped thickly behind him, his opera-powered backup singer wailed away and a big guy spent the whole night swinging a massive Lion of Judah flag, Damian got down, and the peanut-butter-thick weed fog doubled. (Kilos of marijuana must have slipped past the airtight security.)
With huge presence, dreads hanging to the end of his leather jacket, Marley zeroed in on the upbeat jams of Welcome To Jamrock, causing some serious friction among the shoulder-to-shoulder packed house.
Punctuating most songs with a simple "Tarahnto... ," the crystal-clear Marley never lost his easily won grip on everyone, even while doing less cool songs like the synth-sax-laden Beautiful. Acknowledging technology, he commanded people to put "lighta and cellphone ina de air," illuminating the shaking room. Lots of call-and-response "wo-yo-yo-yo" shit kept the night's thrive alive.
The peak was In 2 Deep, a quick-tongued tirade against oil and gas consumption, fast food and poisonous preservatives that Marley repeated numerous times to hammer the message home.
He also did his own interpretations of two of his daddy's songs, mashing Exodus with his charged-up Move and putting his own spin on Could You Be Loved. They were well-performed but slightly questionable in concept, and people bugged out throughout the 90 minutes up until Marley sewed shit up with Jamrock.