Jimmy Cliff/Toots & The Maytals, Civic Hall, Wolverhampton 04/09/11

Jimmy Cliff
If you were around Wolverhampton on Sunday night, you would have seen the biggest range of characters ever appearing at one gig. Usually certain bands attract certain fans dressed in a certain fashion, but Jimmy Cliff and Toots & The Maytals’ reggae extravaganza attracted mods in their Fred Perrys, hippies with their long dreads, skins in their bleached denim and a handful of eccentrics, including one man with a bright pink beard.
Excitement rose and the atmosphere was extremely positive as everyone danced to a soundtrack of reggae classics. The Maytals, minus Toots, were greeted with a real love and passion from the hardcore ska fans, which soon dwindled to confusion as Toot’s daughter Leba introduced herself and sang an incredibly tinny rendition of Tina Turner’s ‘Missing You’.
Toots then joined The Maytals for approximately 40 seconds, as it was announced he had a sore throat and was unable to perform. Toots walked off stage leaving many fans open mouthed in shock as Leba returned to murder ‘Pressure Drop’. During her third song, skinhead anthem ‘54-46 Was My Number’, Leba seemed surprised to find that the crowd who had paid £35 plus £8 booking fee for the gig were not at all impressed and she responded by storming off stage.
Credit to the organisers who managed to get Jimmy Cliff on stage within fifteen minutes, and much credit to Jimmy Cliff and his band who did the impossible of putting a smile back on the faces of a thousand furious fans. With an infectious smile the 63 year old demonstrated some impressive energy reeling off classics such as ‘Miss Jamaica’, ‘Many Rivers To Cross’ and ‘The Harder They Come’ complete with his trademark Jamaican Ska dancing.
Cliff set, despite lasting almost two hours, most likely making up time that The Maytals should have filled, did not drag or feel too padded out. Closing the night with a touching rendition of ‘Wonderful World, Beautiful People’ meant that the bitterness many felt earlier in the night totally evaporated, and fans poured out of the civic happy, relaxed and full of love for Jimmy Cliff.
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