Concert Review: Raging Fyah & Stick Figure in Hamburg, Germany 10/21/2016
10/23/2016 by Gardy Stein
Raging Fyah in Hamburg! My October seems twice as bright at once. But wait, why do they play in Waagenbau? was my first thought when I read the concert announcement. I mean, the dungeoned place is perfect for parties or soundsystem showcases, but a live concert, a whole band at that, is another matter...
Upon my arrival ten past 8pm, the US-group Stick Figure is already on stage, and despite the early start, the place is teeming with people. Even though not many of them seem to know the boys, vibes are up, and the band plays a lively mix of Californian sunshine music, Ganja tunes, HipHop bounces and Songwriter-Reggae. It's fun to listen and to watch Scott Woodruff (singer, guitar), Kevin Offitzer (drums), Kevin "KBong" (keys), Johnny Cosmic (guitar) and Tommy "Bad Boy" Suliman (bass), the latter casually without shoes.
Between his bare feet, the Australian Sheperd Cocoa (who even has a hashtag, check #CocoaTheTourdog) nestles comfortably and blinks at the audience – the first time ever I see an animal on stage during a concert! With tracks from their current album Set In Stone (e.g. Shadow, Fire On The Horizon or Choice Is Yours) and the previous one called Burial Ground (Shelter, Breathe, Coming Home or Weight Of Sound), excellently delivered cover-versions (Cocody Rock) and extended Dub-interludes, Stick Figure obviously impress the audience, so much so that their CDs displayed on the merchandise stand are sold out after the 45-minutes show.
The change-over is quickly done (mostly because the instruments remain put), and at 9pm sharp, the sun rises again with Raging Fyah. Compared to the last time I've seen them on the unrivalled huge and well-lit stage of the Ostroda Reggae Festival in 2015, the tiny platform they have to share here seems like a joke. Anthony and Demar have to stoop and crawl to reach their instruments, and only Kumar and Pele are somehow visible in the dim red and green light – poor Gizmo is playing completely in the dark.
But, hey, they wouldn't be one of Jamaica's most popular Reggae exports if they weren't able to spread their magic anywhere, and the mixer does a great job so that the sound is well-balanced and rich. After a few songs warm-up (Nah Look Back, Step Out Of Babylon, Running Away), they have fully arrived and bless us with beautiful renditions of their older hits Irie Vibe, Music Isn't Biased or Jah Glory as well as the new masterpieces Everlasting, Ready For Love, Raggamuffin or Dash Wata, the latter starting with a fiery La Bamba intro. Other songs are introduced by excursions into masters of their craft as well, paying tribute to Buju Banton (First Love) or Bob Marley (Far Away). At their very best, however, the Fyahs are with their own songs. Nothing compares the brimming emotions evoked during Judgement Day towards the end of their set, and when the audience keeps calling for more after they closed their show with Barriers, Kumar sings a heart-warming version of Brave, accompanied only by Demar on E-piano. Sunshine sees all members of the band on stage once more, and most of the roundabout 250 people present have hands up, with or without lighters. "Say if you wanna catch a groove, wanna feel this Irie Vibe…"
Far too fast this concert is over, and visitors are ushered out of the venue because at midnight, there is another party scheduled, Techno I hear. No use staying on, then, and while waiting for our jackets, my friend summarizes the feeling that glows within me every time I experience Raging Fyah live. She says "I always feel as if they pour a bucket of warm, golden honey over my head." Right on, that's a metaphor worth citing. The sweetness of their music sticks all the way through the weekend. Everlasting indeed!