Reviews > Shows
Ky-Mani Marley in Tel Aviv
Held just before the Jewish holiday of Purim – during which everyone in Israel dresses up in costume and heads to street parties, like a grown-up Halloween – it wasn’t too surprising to see more than a handful of Tel Avivi’s in faux-Rasta garb for Feb. 20’s Ky-Mani Marley show. Thing is, Tel Aviv has its fair share of actual Africans – a solid third of the audience were first or second generation Ethiopians, whose dreadlocks were, of course, far more convincing.
The odd juxtaposition didn’t tamper with the party atmosphere too much; everyone at the Wednesday night show came to feel good, and Ky-Mani delivered high energy, hip-hop infused reggae. But the inarguable success of the show came almost in spite of a few factors dragging it down.
Namely, the product hawking of Ky-Mani’s older brother Rohan before and after the show. House of Marley is the family-endorsed, earth-friendly, Rasta-themed company currently selling canvas bags, headphones and other ‘lifestyle’ products. Whether you agree with the Marleys slapping their father’s lyrics and likeness on a watch is beside the point – Rohan Marley speaking for no less than 10 minutes about the superior quality of House of Marley products, complete with a promotional video, was an utter and complete buzzkill.
When Rohan pulled the “I’ll wait until you’re quiet… I won’t speak over you” stunt, he lost the crowd even more. Ask any third grade teacher – it never works.
Regardless, once Ky-Mani took the stage, the roots, rock, reggae party began. The second-youngest Marley swung through a set loaded with his dad’s hits, including “Concrete Jungle,” “The Heathen,” “I Shot the Sherriff” and requisites “Get Up Stand Up,” “Could You Be Loved” and more.
“Iron Lion Zion” hit particularly hard, and Ky-Mani’s calls of “Is-Ra-El!” drew wild cheers.
His own tracks were met with less fanfare, naturally, but included a few gems. Slow-burner “The March,” with its chorus of “Yo left, yo left, yo left, right, left” was smooth, though Ky-Mani’s introduction was a bit awkward: “One thing I know about playing here in Israel – it’s all soldiers here tonight!”
He was more correct than he probably knew; Israel’s mandatory service from 18-21 meant a large portion of the crowd really were in uniform. Ky-Mani’s stage gear – an army outfit complete with a battle vest – made it all the weirder.
Still, the crowd showed up for Marley music, and that’s what they got. Sing-alongs to hits like “One Love” were deafening. After two encores, the danced-out crowd filtered into the South Tel Aviv streets – but not before passing the racks of Marley headphones on the way out.
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