Report: Exodus 40 Live - An All-Star Concert Event with Ziggy & Stephen Marley
11/03/2017 by Larson Sutton
Bob Marley & The Wailers’ Exodus contains perhaps his most diverse collection of styles gathered under the umbrella of reggae. It’s no surprise, then, to honor the 40th anniversary of that monumental achievement, called by Time Magazine the best album of the 20th century, an equally eclectic roster of special guests was needed. That’s just what happened at Exodus 40 Live: An All-Star Concert Event at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles [November 1st, 2017].
It starts, of course, with the Marleys - brothers Ziggy and Stephen. The sibling duo, in strong and stirring voices throughout, joined a ten-piece ensemble recruited for the evening by bassist Don Was. The pair opened the two-hour performance with what Ziggy called “stripped-down” versions of some of their father’s classics. With Ziggy on guitar and Stephen on conga, the two shared the lead vocal, kicking-off with a slower, emotional rendition of Could You Be Loved. Then, Stephen led early Wailers gem Small Axe, before Ziggy stepped up to helm the evocative War/No More Trouble. For the closing of this mini-set, the two sang a hushed Redemption Song, met with eager applause from the sold-out crowd.
After a pre-recorded greeting from Bob, the full band set alight the complete performance of the Exodus album, though sequenced slightly differently from its studio release. Opening on Natural Mystic, Ziggy and a pair a harmony singers shared the song’s peak with an extended sax solo, then turned the lead vocal over to Stephen for an energized So Much Things to Say. The first vocal of the evening not delivered by a Marley came from percussionist Cyril Neville of the famed New Orleans musical family, the Neville Brothers. Neville left his perch to offer a captivating version of Guiltiness, marked by the brass-tack-sharp three-piece horn section.
Next, trench-coated Citizen Cope took the lead on The Heathen, staying mostly true to the original’s phrasing and pace. Stephen returned to the spotlight, leading a jubilant Jamming held in check by Was on bass and the masterful drumming of guest Terence Higgins. Among the highlights of the set was Aloe Blacc’s reading of Waiting in Vain. With an equal amount of homage and self-expression, Blacc delivered Marley’s love song with endearing passion. So, too, from an appearance by another singer in a trench coat, as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James appeared in leading the R&B ballad Turn Your Lights Down Low, then picked up a guitar for a short instrumental coda to the song, and stuck around for Blacc’s return on the joyous Three Little Birds that stretched into an a capella audience sing-along on the chorus led by Stephen.
Ziggy commanded a relatively curt version of One Love, then welcomed guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine for a heavyweight run through Exodus. Morello bounced and bounded, coaxing sonic divebombs from his guitar, at one point raising the instrument to his teeth to reveal a taped sign on the guitar’s back reading, FUCK TRUMP. The capacity crowd exploded. [Watch the video below!]
For the encore, Stephen sang beautifully on All Day All Night, then brought blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. out for a slowed No Woman, No Cry. Morello returned to join Clark Jr. for a twin-guitar attack on the hit I Shot the Sheriff, trading climactic, bending notes in the show’s most rock-and-roll moment. In a finale that gathered all of the concert’s guests, the stage swelled for a pointed and powerful Get Up, Stand Up.
Marley’s Exodus album certainly is one that had both contemporary relevance and a vision for a better future when it debuted in 1977. Four decades later, carried by family and friends, the record remains just as relevant and just as necessary for lighting the way forward. Performed with humility, exuberance, and precision, the Exodus 40 Live concert was a tribute befitting the man and the music.
VIEW MORE PHOTOS HERE! WATCH THE LIVE VIDEOS HERE!