Toots and the Maytals at the UEA

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At the beginning of September the legendary Jamaican reggae group Toots and the Maytals played at the University of East Anglia on their 2016 tour. Since their formation in the 1960s, the band have been instrumental in popularising Reggae music with an international audience, as well as being incredibly popular in Jamaica, holding the record for the most number one hits in their home country. They are even attributed with naming the genre, with their 1968 single “Do the Raggay” being the first song to use the term.

There was a point when it seemed that we would no longer be able to enjoy the band’s high-energy live shows, as it was during their previous tour in 2013 that the band’s front man, Frederick “Toots” Hibbert, was struck in the head by a 1.75-liter vodka bottle thrown by a member of the audience while performing onstage in Richmond, Virgina. As well as sustaining serious injuries, Hibbert developed a fear of performing and it was thought that this incident marked a sad end to the musician’s long touring career.

However, his amazing energy and positivity won through, and this tour marks a joyous return to the stage for the 73 year old front man. The show was a cross-generational affair, with Hibbert’s set being opened by an electrifying performance from his daughter Leba Thomas, who then doubled up as a backing vocalist when her father joined her on the stage. This meeting of the generations was reflected in the audience, which ranged from fresh-faced university students to aging skin heads. Beginning the set with their popular song Pressure Drop, the band went on to perform hit after hit, working the audience up into a frenzy of waving arms, with everyone, young and old, singing along.

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