Ziggy Marley strode quietly onto a tiny Tel Aviv stage Tuesday evening with his nine-piece band and knee-length dreadlocks, his humility belying the sheer talent that enthralled his fans for the next two hours.
“Shalom Tel Aviv. Rastafari. OK let’s do this,” he said as the band launched into “I Will Be Glad” from his latest album “Rebellion Rises.”
Playing just a few days ago to tens of thousands of European fans at Rockpalast in Germany, Marley brought the same energy and intensity to the few thousand in the packed Barby Club in Tel Aviv. Jogging in place incessantly and occasionally shadowboxing as he played, he kept the crowd entertained from start to finish.
Marley has a personal connection to the country through his Israeli wife, Orly. The singer’s family has joined Marley for this leg of the tour and on Saturday will celebrate the bat mitzvah of the couple’s daughter Judah Victoria, in Jerusalem.
— Ziggy Marley (@ziggymarley) July 31, 2018
The eight-time Grammy Award winning artist was making his fourth visit to Israel. Most of the songs he played were from “Rebellion Rises,” his seventh solo studio album, which has received critical acclaim and has been described as a call to action by reviewers.
After the opening song of thanksgiving, Marley strapped on a guitar as the concert switched gears with two protest songs expressing his yearning to change the world, “See Dem Fake Leaders” followed by “World Revolution.”
The driving reggae beat was propelled by the bass and the powerful drums and percussion kept the crowd on its feet and on the move.
“We the people of earth want to do something that will change the world for the better,” the smiling Marley told the cheering crowd.
“Nice to see marijuana trees blowing in the breeze,” he said, citing the lyrics from “Wild and Free” and referencing the pungent aroma in the air.
“Love Is My Religion” segued into a few bars of “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles, a band Marley claimed in a recent interview to have only just discovered.
While Marley will probably never be able to escape the massive legacy of his legendary father, his music takes the reggae popularized by Bob and raises it to new heights.
He stretches the boundaries of the genre with rap (on “World Revolution”) and hip hop influences (in “Circle of Peace”). The fat distorted guitar solo to end “Wild and Free” wouldn’t have felt out of place in a hard rock anthem.
“If I can imagine it, it can fit in my music,” he said in an interview recently.
Marley also played a few of his late father’s classics, including “One Love” and “Coming in from the Cold.”
Before playing “Circle of Peace,” he reflected on the larger themes of life.
“The truth is, only those who are willing will see their dreams fulfilled,” he said. “It is the will of humanity and the will of Jah, that peace and love will triumph over the evil of the world.”
God plays an important role in Marley’s life, and as he sang “Love is my religion” and meditated on the words “Jah will provide,” he became the high priest preaching happiness and love in a world corrupted by “Dem Fake Leaders” as he called for a “Rebellion.”
When Bob Marley visited New Zealand in 1979 I was too young to appreciate his greatness, but he had an impact on so many Kiwis for so many years, especially while I was in high school.
Bob Marley died in 1981 but listening to his eldest son singing “Is This Love,” a Bob Marley medley of “Justice/War/Get Up, Stand Up,” followed by Ziggy’s own “Look Who’s Dancing” as an encore, I finally understood what I had missed out on all those years ago.
There are still tickets available for Marley’s Wednesday night show at the Zappa Club Amphi Shuni in Jabotinsky Park outside Zichron Yaakov.