Barrington Levy + History of Reggae with The Itals at House of Blues: Live review + photo gallery
When my friend Ziggy told me Barrington Levy would be performing in Chicago, I couldn't resist the chance to see a living dancehall legend in action. Unfortunately, he was performing at The House Of Blues, a venue with all the typical corporate Babylon trappings: a 28 dollar ticket price, bar stools reserved for "VIPs," $4 bottles of water and a mega-lame "cosby sweater pattern meets rock n roll hall of fame" decor. But I wasn't going to let this deter me.
We positioned ourselves directly in front of the stage so as not to miss anything and to get as much of the direct stage sound as possible. The supporting act, '70s reggae legends The Itals, despite only really having one original member showed that they are still capable of belting out beautiful Congos-esque falsetto harmonies. Finally it was time for Barrington to perform. I was not quite sure what to expect. Then I had an awful thought, At this point most of the classic Jamaican artists from the '60s and '70s that I love so much have either died of gotten so old that its impossible for them to really perform the way they did when they were in their prime. I might have just payed this extortionist ticket price to simply say: "I was in the same room as Barrington Levy who sucked, but I got to see him before he died."
Very shortly thereafter my fears were laid to rest as a barrel chested youthful Mr. Levy took to the stage and proceeded to skiddly-bop-diddily-diddly-whoooaaaaa his way through a blazing set of every one of his hits: "Black Roses," "Too Experienced," "Murderer" and, of course, "Broader Than Broadway" complete with a breakdown in "plain english " for those who could not understand his Jamaican patois. He slayed it. Not only was his voice still completely intact but I'd go so far as to say a few songs sounded better than ever. The keyboardists would occasionally dip into awful fake horn tones that make even the baddest-ass tune sound like the "Electric Slide" performed on a cruise ship. Other than that, I have to big up the backing band for the evening who did justice to the songs complete with live rewinds and transitions. Over all, the gig was a success. Given a chance to see Barrington Levy, dont pass it up whatever the venue.