reCAP :: Toots and The Maytals :: 2018.07.20

July 31  / Tuesday
Words By: Jordan Becker Photos By: Gary Flink

One of the great things about The Capitol Theater is that it gives you the chance to see both musical legends, such as Toots & the Maytals, and rising stars, such as opening act Victory, in a fun, uplifting Friday night of music.

Opening the show was 23 year old Victory Boyd, fronting an all-female four piece band that also included her younger sister on bass. Boyd, from a musical family, has been singing her whole life, including as a busker on the New York subways and in Central Park. She was discovered by Jay-Z, who signed her (and, separately, her family) to his Rocnation label. Searching the Internet for information about Victory turned up comparisons to, among others, Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Corinne Bailey-Rae, Alicia Keys, Nina Simone, and Roberta Flack. And yet, despite her youth, it is easy to see what the hoopla is all about.

Victory’s stage presence is already strong, with her wild, natural hair and her forthright patter, and she delivered a set of powerful original songs and surprising covers, including “What’s It All About, Alfie,” the Burt Bacharach/Hal David standard, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Those of us in the crowd who arrived in time to see Victory’s set made a new musical discovery, it is a good idea to check out the opening act.

Between sets, my wife and I waited to have copies of Victory’s recently released debut CD (and her prior EP) signed, and chatted with another Boyd sister working the merch booth—and yes, she’s also a singer. When Victory arrived, she couldn’t have been nicer, taking pictures, chatting with fans, and signing CDs.

But then it was time for the main event. It had been more than three decades since I stood in a crowd swaying to reggae music.

A packed floor watched as the Maytals took their positions before introducing their leader, 75 year old Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, who commanded the stage. They kicked off the set with the infamous 1968 hit “Do The Reggay,” generally acknowledged to be the first song to use that term to refer to the type of music that was emerging in Jamaica as a fusion of rocksteady, blues, ska, calypso, rhythm and blues, and rock, and which soon swept the world.

Over the next 2 hours, Toots led his band through a jubilant set of his greatest and some of his latest songs with energy and passion.

While it is hard to separate reggae music from politics, Toots & the Maytals seem to tilt more towards a message of fun, joy, and community, rather than the more overt political statements of some of his contemporaries. And that is why the highlight of the night, for me at least, was an epic version of “Funky Kingston,” about the power of music, led by Toots, prancing around the stage, wielding an electric guitar and playing the song’s sinuous lead riff. Other great moments were the ska-tinged “Pressure Drop,” and their nostalgic reworking of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Road.”

As the band vamped during the final song, Toots introduced the band, then made a point to bump fists with, or shake hands with, every member of the Maytals (and embrace the singers), before making a triumphal exit from the stage. As befits a legend.

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