Photos and story by Empress K for ReggaeReflection.com
commenced the Fruit of Life Summer Tour on May 26th in Redway, CA. The two month tour has stops in 44 cities in support of his upcoming album, Revelation Pt. II, The Fruit of Life (releasing 7/22) - the sequel to his Grammy award winning album, Revelation Pt. I, The Root of Life released in 2011.
Continuing towards that trend, Stephen included New England dates in Portland, Maine and Burlington,Vermont as well as Boston where Stephen Marley already has a strong fan base. I had a chance to attend both the Portland, Maine and Boston shows.
The Portland, Maine show held on 6/27 had a smaller yet extremely enthusiastic crowd that fully enjoyed a night of quality Reggae music at the State Theatre, a historic venue in the heart of downtown Portland. For the 6/30 Boston show, Stephen not unexpectedly performed for a sold-out audience at the Paradise Rock Club where he had last performed a solo show in 2014.
Long-time fans of Stephen Marley not only look out for Stephen’s works, but they also have come to love and appreciate Stephen’s band members, his family on the road - many that have been with him for over 20 years. Delighting fans even more on this tour is the additional individual participation of band members that have launched solo projects of their own.
Supporting vocalist Rica Newell and drummer Squidly Cole, both long-time Stephen Marley band members (and formerly with Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers) were up next, each highlighting their own solo efforts. Rica performed Them Fool Have Failed before Squidly affectionately known as the “Singing Drummer” sang I Will Sing Unto Jah from his first album, Babylon Days while providing his own percussion.
Stephen’s oldest son Jo Mersa who has frequently accompanied Stephen on tour performed his own set and soon had the audience dancing to his well known dancehall style song, Rock and Swing before introducing surprise guest and younger brother Yohan Marley to the stage to perform their song collaboration, Burn It Down. Jo Mersa then made a touching dedication of his song The World is Crazy to the late Kymani Cole, son of Squidy Cole who recently died in a tragic car accident while the tour was already in progress.
After a brief intermission, tour manager Yussef introduced Stephen Marley to the stage. He opened his performance with the Bob Marley classic, Lively up Yourself before moving into selections from his 2nd studio album, Root of Life: Can’t Keep I Down, No Cigarette Smoking (accompanied by Rica Newell), and Pale Moonlight (How Many Times) before performing a Bob Marley medley of Three Little Birds, Buffalo Soldier and Iron Lion.
For the remainder of his set, Stephen creatively mixed it up to include songs from each of his studio albums such as Hey Baby, Traffic Jam, and Iron Bars from Mind Control; and from the upcoming Fruit of Life album, he performed previously released singles Rockstone and Revelation Party. For the latter, he brought his sons back to the stage and reminded the audience to “lead by example and show love” before transitioning to the ever popular Could You be Loved, the last song prior to the encore. The audiences in both Portland and Boston gave thunderous applause and voiced their demand for the expected encore for which Stephen wholeheartedly complied.
Continuing with the theme of love, Stephen kicked off the five song encore with another Bob Marley classic, Is This Love, followed by his hit single Mission and then gave the audience one more taste of his new album with the brand new song So Strong (out now featuring Shaggy). Switching back to a Bob Marley classic he then performed Waiting in Vain and for his final song selection, he ended the evening with more of an acoustic feel as he played Djembe drums on It’s Alright, another new and well received song from the upcoming Fruit of Life album fully satisfying the New England audiences with a summer night celebration of love, life, and family.
David "Big Papi" Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox takes a moment to meet Stephen Marley backstage in Boston.
Pre-order Revelation Pt. II: "The Fruit of Life" (avail 7/22)
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