Report: Morgan Heritage in Cologne, Germany - April 10th
04/14/2014 by Lena Pletzinger
Happiness was what I felt when I entered the Essigfabrik in Cologne at the early evening and happiness was what lasted all night long, even beyond the end of the show. Both the people who had come to see the band after a long time without touring Germany (with the exception of the show at SummerJam 2013) as well as the band itself filled up the area with love and happiness. The mild spring night of the 10th of April provided additionally best conditions for a warming experience. Before the show actually started people enjoyed themselves outside Essigfabrik, looking forward to the upcoming show.
As soon as the backing band played the first tunes everyone urged to get inside, and it was filled up suddenly with around 350 people who released their happiness with shouts of joy, applauding and a LOT of bright smiles. Jemere Morgan, son of Gramps Morgan, opened the show with a 15-minute performance of his solo tracks. He gave International Love to his best, his song on Jugglerz’ Street Soul Riddim, follwed by First Kiss, his debut single from 2011 and his latest release Neighborhood Girl, the first single from his upcoming EP I Am Jemere which will be released in September this year, as he told us after the show. Even with his young age of only 18 he already got notable experience on stage. The way he constantly engaged with the audience, danced, smiled and obviously enjoyed his show was certainly convincing. His songs are more focused on love than on other topics, but that doesn’t mean that they are missing out on something so that he successfully accomplished to spread out the strong power of Reggae Music.
Just as powerful was the long awaited moment the Morgan Heritage quintet, Brothers Peetah, Gramps, Mr. Mojo , Lukes and Sister Una Morgan finally came – or rather “danced” – on stage. The crowd literally got mad when the first tunes of the opening song The Return sounded which is one of twelve new songs on the latest LP Here Come The Kings (2013) and already gave the 2012 released EP The Return its name. The song can be viewed as a statement of the band to be back on tour together after half a decade in which they had their main attention on solo projects. The sound of Peetah’s and Gramps’ strong and unique voices must have been touching every (Rasta) heart from now on. The vibes between massive and the band was right from the beginning on. The joy of this reencounter was clearly visible on the both sides. A look around the broad circle of people of all ages demonstrated that they hadn’t lost any fans in that time at all, but gained new, young fans.
The songs that followed were a well-chosen variety of old and new songs. Don’t Haffi Dread from the same named LP (1999) followed by A Man Is Still A Man, released in 2003 on the Three In One album and Can’t Get We Out on the 2009 released Changes Riddim.
Lukes Morgan’s guitar solo performance and the additional African drums played by Mr. Mojo, gave an insight in the band’s vast repertoire of musical diversity and brought some African spirits inside. Peetah used the moment to salute everyone in the area who came out of Africa. Playing the song Bam Bam from their well-respected colleagues Toots and the Maytals expressed their love for them and gave the crowd another great opportunity to dance out the adrenaline.
Although Morgan Heritage are known for their deep love for classic Roots Reggae, they don’t refuse Dancehall which was shown in the performance of the Liberation Riddim Medley. Mr. Mojo rapped is soul off doing Capleton's Jah Jah City and hit the massive to freak out and turned the show for a moment to a dancehall party. Meanwhile Peetah gave big ups to Dancehall artist and to Reggae music.
They constantly sought to keep up the interaction with their fans throughout the evening, repeatedly asked them how they were feeling, shook hands with them and even addressed some fans in particular. To Peetah’s: “Do you love Reggae Music?” they responded with big applause, whistling and loud “Ya man”-shouts!
With Nothing To Smile About from the 2008-Mission In Progress album the band brought another big tune to the show which was received with great joy before the band left the stage. Peetah’s last words in which he gave thanks to the Most High was one of many statements that night which emphasized his deep Rastafarian believe. That the fans wouldn’t let them go so easily goes without saying. For the encore the band kicked off the stage again with Tell Me How Come and spread just another wave of happiness around the area. Gratefulness was sensible everywhere when the band finally said goodbye after a 2 hour show.
Reggaeville had the chance to talk to the band after the show. The positive vibes and happiness spread all over the place was also found in the mood of the band. As if Gramps Morgan knew what I have been feeling all night, he answered my question of how he was feeling about the show with a smiling: “Happy”. He told us that he was very happy with the current tour and that it made him even happier to have his son Jemere with him, being able to watch him grow every day. Later in this interview he expressed his sense of joyfulness considering the recent situation of Reggae Music in Jamaica. “Reggae has always been there. Artist like Burning Spear have always been making real Roots Music. The only difference today is that the media, the radio stations give Reggae a chance and open up for it.” Referring to the new generation of Reggae artist like Chronixx or Protoje he said: “New soldiers are born! These are refreshing new artists”. He closed the conversation and thus the Morgan Heritage experience on that night with a strong statement to which I – and probably 350 other fans that came to the show – fully agree which was: “It’s cool to be conscious and it’s cool to be conscious music.”
➜ VIEW THE PHOTO REPORT HERE: MORGAN HERITAGE | JEMERE MORGAN