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Frederick "Toots" Hibbert is an innovator; he began making reggae and ska before there was such a thing. His slick, soulful voice and passionate stage-demeanor fueled Jamaica's The Maytals to stardom ---earning them worldwide fame, several Grammies and 31 number one hits in Jamaica—now, that's a track record. He's still on the road, and despite his illustrious history, his performance tonight at the Depot was mediocre.
His guitarist stole a line and introduced him as "the hardest working man in show biz." The set started off with "Pressure Drop," the band playing the intro for black-clad Toots to make his stage entrance. Moving right along, Toots picked up the guitar for "Johnny Cool Man" another classic from the closet. Despite releasing Flip and Twist—the 57th album listed on his website—this year, Toots knew what the crowd wanted, so he played only a few new tunes, sticking to favorite sing-alongs and dance-able grooves.
On stage, Toots, 61, had a grandfatherly "I don't give a damn" attitude. The oft-confused band was generally bewildered with Toots' musical direction. The result was off-cued solos and jumps into the music. Yet, Toots carried on, not giving a damn. Was it his age or extended use of Jamaica's medicine that did in his performance?%uFFFD
Despite the lacking musical tightness, it's hard to resist Toots' tempting classics, well-aged since the '60s. And, it's hard not to love this old guy because he's still having fun—easily forgiven. Well, except for his slip-shod guitar playing on "Bam Bam." Another highlight was "Funky Kingston," which he interrupted several times to ramble, ultimately wishing happy birthday to no one in particular. Praise Jah for birthdays! Then there was "Monkey Man."
It's hard to say the set ended with "54-46," because the music just kept going. One Depot employee said Toots was supposed to end an hour before he did. Again, he must not have given a damn. Toots and the Maytals live pleases mainly for seeing a living reggae legend, while his music, at this point in his career, is best enjoyed on CD or vinyl.%uFFFD