The night began in the cold brisk air on Commonwealth Avenue, right outside of Paradise Rock Club. As someone who grew up listening to Toots and the Maytals, all my childhood memories of listening to them with my family started flooding back to my head.
This feel-good reggae group consists of main singer Toots Hibbert, also known to some as the “Father of Reggae,” guitarists, backup singers, bassists, keyboardists and a drummer. Originating from Jamaica, Hibbert brought nothing but feel good vibes and smiles to fans who packed the venue and sold out the show. Toots and the Maytals all rocked the color red, and Toots himself wore an eclectic outfit with red alligator printed details on his shirt and pants, along with upside down sunglasses. Here are eight highlights of the show at Paradise Rock Club:
1. Leba, the daughter of lead singer Toots Hibbert, opened for the group, backed up by the Maytals. Her personality throughout the concert was radiating as she sang alongside her father and the plethora of musical talent she grew up with. We shared a moment when she watched me as her father’s dance moves brought a smile to my face and she started laughing.
2. Toots promised us a night of hits. He said, “I’ve been doing my thinking and I’ve come to say that tonight I’m going to give you all number one songs. I think you deserve number one songs.”
3. Toots danced and sang the night away during “My Love is So Strong” and “Time Tough,” a song in which he engaged the crowd to join in singing.
4. Carl Harvey, the lead guitarist of the group, jammed out and serenaded the crowd with his melodic solos and bubbling personality.
5. A dance party started with The Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie.”
The crowd, the band and even the air around us was crazy. Everyone was smiling and having an absolute blast. Toots embraced the crowd several times, passing out fist bumps and squeezing yearning hands.
6. Toots joked early in the show that his band wanted him to bring out his guitar and to be patient. As if he were born with a guitar in his hand, Toots serenaded us with “Funky Kingston.” Again, Toots broke out his dance moves and made the entire crowd smile.
7. Toots jammed out to “54-46 Was My Number,” one of his very famous songs reflecting his time spent in jail. One of his security guards was actually wearing a yellow beanie embroidered with the numbers 54-46.
8. Toots and the Maytals brought my childhood dreams to reality when they played “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Someone in the crowd screamed, “Please Mr. Hibbert, play ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads!’” So, he teased with an improvised song about how the people are wondering what he’s going to do next when he himself is still unsure. Finally, the moment came. The mood was calm and everyone was attentive. Midway through the song he sang, “Misty taste of moonshine, tears gone from my eyes / Country roads, take me home / To the place I belong,” hailing praise to West Jamaica, his place of origin. This feel good song brought tears not only to my eyes, but also to the eyes of many others, including his daughter Leba, who was up on stage.
It’s important to reflect on the power that music has. It’s a uniting force, bringing power and positivity to a multitude of people. Especially today, it’s important to reflect on the past and all of the progress that has occurred and will continue to occur. Toots and the Maytals are a constant reminder of change and progress. The power of this concert was absolutely life-changing, and entirely memorable.