Written By: Brian WInters
On the second night of their two-show stint at Brooklyn Bowl, Toots & The Maytals nearly brought the house down in front of a jam-packed Williamsburg crowd. At 73 years young, Toots Hibbert exhibited his joyous energy, and had the audience roaring at every turn, rattling off one hit after the next.
The evening kicked off with Selectress Iriela spinning vintage roots reggae hits from her to die for collection of vinyl. Easing the crowd into a reggae rhythm, the NYC-based DJ and producer played classic tunes from the likes of Bob Marley and the Wailers, Don Carlos, Half Pint, Yellowman, Ini Kamoze, Junior Reid, and Sister Nancy.
With the Bowl now thoroughly packed, Selectress Irie made way for Toots' band to enter the stage. The band jammed out for a few minutes before Toots' daughter Leba joined them on stage to sing a pair of songs. Anticipation at it's highest level, Toots finally scurried out from the green room and in front of the microphone, drawing an enormous cheer from the Brooklyn crowd.
Toots & The Maytals began with “Pressure Drop,” and the party immediately took off. Toots has an incredible stage presence and was working the crowd as soon as he entered the room. Whether it was his dance moves, his larger than life smile, the occasional call for his guitar, or simply taking off his sunglasses at one point, Toots had the audience mesmerized the entire night.
Toots & The Maytals tore through some of their all-time classics like “Time Tough,” “Pomps & Pride,” “Reggae Got Soul,” and “Funky Kingston,” while the crowd sang along to each chorus. You'd be hard-pressed to find a show as interactive as the one Toots & The Maytals put on. It was spectacular in that regard. Toots would sing a line, and in unison everyone would shout the line back to him. Decades and decades later, Toots & The Maytals' music still resonates.
To close out the set Toots & The Maytals performed another handful of hits, including their reggaefied cover of John Denver's “Take Me Home, Country Roads” and “Monkey Man.” Not surprisingly, the crowd demanded an encore, and Toots happily obliged by singing “54-46 Was My Number,” which nearly set the place on fire.
After a 3 year hiatus, It was great to see Toots & The Maytals performing once again. Proving that age is just a number, Toots' energy was absolutely electric. Along side his daughter and longtime bandmates, it looked like he was thoroughly enjoying himself performing in front a of an extremely enthusiastic crowd. Hopefully Toots & The Maytals enjoyed their Brooklyn run, and return in the very near future. It was certainly a treat.