When the announcer can’t make it through his “no smoking” warning without laughing, you know you’re at a Marley concert. Green, yellow, and red took root in Central Park’s inevitable haze on Sunday, radiating from the fibers of flags and long, swirling skirts.
As Bob Marley’s sons prepared to carry the torch, SummerStage welcomed a rich lineup just a few acts short of a full-out festival. With a soothing start from Tarrus Riley, Morgan Heritage, Black Am I, and even Bob’s grandson, Jo Mersa Marley, the concert felt like a family reunion on a faraway island. Throughout their classic reggae jams, dreamy sax and chimes sent the island back in time.
As soon as it was Stephen Marley’s turn, the air turned dark, sticky, and sweet. The first thing to hit the speakers was the seminal speech from the 1940 Charlie Chaplin film, The Great Dictator, which beseeches us to live by each other’s happiness rather than each other’s misery. In a perfectly-timed entrance, Stephen wove a familiar kind of peace into newer hits like “Break Us Apart,” and “No Cigarette Smoking,” leading into his little brother’s set with “Buffalo Solider.”
With dreads to his feet and love in his eyes, Damian joined the celebration. The youngest brother divinely evoked his father’s voice in songs like “More Justice,” “Beautiful,” “It Was Written,” and “Get Up, Stand Up.” Finding their own little circles in the grass, people danced and worshipped with fervor; hands in the air, picnic blankets trailing behind them like capes.
All of a sudden, though no rain was forecasted, the sky burst open in a tremendous downpour – right when Damian started playing “Road To Zion.” With such a torrential storm on a cloudless night, during a song about heaven, everyone knew exactly who was watching down on them.
Article: Olivia Isenhart
Photos: Shayne Hanley