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On Tuesday, March 20th, reggae legends Toots and Maytals came to Boston’s House of Blues for a night of soulful reggae hits by the man who first mastered the style over 40 years ago. With a huge catalogue of classic tunes to choose from, Toots and his phenomenal backing band the Maytals made sure no one was going to leave this show unsatisfied.
To kick things off for the night, Atlanta natives The Constellations took the stage. The Constellations have a sound that defies easy description. With enough groove to call them a funk band, enough power to call them rock, and enough jamming sensibilities without getting repetitive, they seemed right at home with the crowd. While the band clearly had a dedicated following screaming their lyrics back at them from the front of the crowd, most people seemed unfamiliar with the group. This seemed not to matter however as The Constellations had more than enough catchy melodies and energetic stage antics to go around and keep everyone happy.
A mere half-hour later, the Maytals took the stage. After a couple more minutes of building anticipation, Toots finally strolled out onto the stage in a sharp white suit and sunglasses. To the collective screams of the crowd, Toots broke into his first number “Reggae Got Soul” and didn’t slow down from there. Taking songs from across his career, Toots played a two hour set of his signature groovy reggae classics that kept people moving the whole time. Toots made a big point to get the crowd as involved as possible and really make it feel like a communal event. It felt like everyone was united as one group instead of the normal split feeling of a performer separated from an audience. The House of Blues sang along as Toots played through hit after hit such as “Time Tough,” “Monkey Man,” and a personal favorite of mine, Toots’ take on the John Denver classic “Take Me Home Country Roads”. People cheered and sang for “Pressure Drop” and stormed the stage to dance with the band. Even when Toots finally closed the show was his all time classic “54-46 Was My Number,” there wasn’t anyone left not getting involved.
One of the most defining qualities of the show was the variety of people visible in the crowd. Middle-aged parents had brought their kids to see Toots for the first time. There were college kids coming out for a fun evening and old Rasta men who had probably been listening to Toots for most of their lives. Not only was everyone there to have fun and to share it with each other, but they were there to share the evening with the band. Toots claims that his shows and his records are all about positivity and spreading good vibes to everyone who wants them. After seeing his show and seeing the crowd, it would be hard to argue that the Godfather of reggae didn’t accomplish his goal.