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Acts Stand Up for Tosh

BY RICHARD JOHNSON
Observer senior reporter
johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, October 23, 2017

THE spirit of Winston Hubert McIntosh — Peter Tosh — was palpable on Saturday evening at the second annual staging of the tribute concert, part of a series of activities paying homage to the late reggae icon.

Staged at the Pulse complex in New Kingston, the event brought together some of reggae's biggest names to perform Tosh's best known and most beloved tracks.

Like last year, the event was ably anchored musically by Tosh's touring band — Word, Sound and Power — which was reunited specially for this event. On Saturday, the band included the likes of the superb Donald Kinsey on guitar, Santa Davis on drums, bassists George “Fully” Fullwood and Steve Golding, as well as a horns section led by Dean Fraser.

Sticking with the format from the inaugural staging, vocally it was up to Andrew Tosh, Peter's eldest, to weave a tapestry of his father's work throughout the event to create what was indeed an enjoyable evening of music celebrating a cultural icon and reggae revolutionary.

Andrew Tosh, whose artistry undeniably reflects his lineage, dropped some of his father's anthems on the audience. No Nuclear War, Mystic Man, The Toughest, Walk and Don't Look Back, Rastafari Is, Johnny B Goode, and Buckingham Palace.

In between, the event was spiced with the other acts who all gave their take on their favourite Tosh pieces and stressed the areas in which he was passionate.

New breed Jesse Royal brought his vocals to bear on Nah Go A Jail and Lessons in My Life. This young singer brought Tosh's activism for the legalisation of ganja to the stage as he openly smoked during his performance. But it was veteran Luciano who took this to another level as he puffed a 'big head' throughout his set, which comprised the apt Legalise It and Equal Rights.

Tony Rebel and Freddie McGregor debated on which was the biggest 'rude boy' Peter Tosh track. For McGregor, it was Burial which he performed as well as Maga Dog; while Rebel chose Glass House, which along with Jah Guide comprised his tribute.

Tosh's outspoken nature was reflected in the performance of guest artiste Zak Starkey of The Who and his wife, British rock act Sshh!. They dropped Brand New Second Hand, which was accented by a driving bass line from Steve Golding; as well as Get Up, Stand Up. For the latter, Sshh! took the performance to the audience, throwing chairs as she encouraged activism.

The international appeal of Tosh came via a video message from celebrated rocker Mick Jagger. In which he recalled his favourite Tosh moment — a performance of Walk And Don't Look Back on NBC's Saturday Night Live.

The females were not to be left out.

Nadine Sutherland dropped Mama Africa and Stepping Razor which was taken to another level with a signature Kinsey guitar solo. Sutherland would return with fellow vocalists Pam Hall and Gem Myers for a medley of Wailers classics. Singer Ikaya teamed with Andrew Tosh on the ballad Nothing But Love, originally recorded with American singer Gwen Guthrie. Queen Ifrica chose the solemn Creation and Crystal Ball as her two classics of choice.

Peter Tosh — a core member of The Wailers, which comprised Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer — was killed at his St Andrew home in September 1987. He was 42.

Andrew Tosh has been carrying on his father's legacy but it seems to be in good hands for the millennial as young Dre Tosh, Peter's grandson, seems ready to take on the mantle. Dre has shown great promise since he debuted on the scene just over a year ago and the trajectory of his growth is definitely rising. He performed Can't Blame The Youth and his take on Coming in Hot.

Saturday's showcase was dedicated to Jawara Tosh, the late reggae singer's 37-year-old son who has been in a coma since February 22 after being beaten by a fellow inmate in a New Jersey prison where he was serving a one-year sentence for possession of ganja.

The series closed yesterday with a gathering at the late singer's final resting place in Belmont, Westmoreland. On Thursday, there was a gala at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston while a symposium was held at The University of the West Indies, Mona campus on Friday.