Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Concert Review: Jimmy Cliff at Red Butte Garden

Posted By on June 27, 2012, 2:17 PM

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Tie-dye and Rasta-adorned patrons wandered the concert grounds of Red Butte Garden Tuesday night, waiting for Jimmy Cliff to serenade the crowd with his reggae tunes.

Cliff, who turned 64 in April, still danced to every song and never left the crowd hungry for more energy. His Lion of Judah T-shirt complemented the red, yellow and green scarf hanging around Cliff’s neck, a typical uniform for his performances.

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Jimmy Cliff tells the audience to "raise your hands higher!"

The venue was also a star of the show, as patrons and even Cliff commented on the beauty of Red Butte Garden, saying, “This is such a beautiful place to have a concert. It reminds me of the place I grew up in.”

Concertgoers wandered through endless paths between rose gardens and water features to find a quiet place to enjoy their favorite tree before the show.

The concert began with a crowd favorite “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” still being sung by all ages at the comfortably packed venue, with everyone having just enough room to dance with Cliff and his energetic back-up singers.

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Cliff showing off his spry dance moves.

The crowd immediately threw their hands up and swayed to “Wild World” followed by “Ruby SoHo,” which Cliff introduced as “a song about me and my girl.”

Cliff stayed true to what he knows. He called on old dance moves, saying, “We used to dance like this,” while doing the Scooby-doo to “Higher and Higher,” and sang passionately of peace, reggae and Jamaica.

Cliff poetically described his home country until evolving into a set of political songs and statements aimed at protecting the planet and ending war. Cliff cried, “Let’s send a positive message to the leaders of the world. We are the people! We don’t want another war in Afghanistan!”

Following the crowd cheering in agreement, Cliff began “Afghanistan,” a retooled version of his anti-war hit “Vietnam,” which ended with one of the percussionists performing a powerful drum solo.

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Persuading the crowd toward peace as the sun sets behind Red Butte.

The show became lighthearted once again, as Cliff encouraged crowd participation through shout-back lyrics and letting the crowd take over the choruses of “Miss Jamaica” and “Sitting In Limbo.”

For one of Cliff’s biggest hits, he picked up the guitar and plucked out “I Can See Clearly Now,” as the whole audience from 60- to 10-years-old sang along with the timeless song.

Cliff’s unmatched reggae chops never waned throughout the evening, even when the mood changed at the end of the show and the band put down their instruments to join Cliff in a drum circle for “Rivers of Babylon.”

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Cliff's closing song contained nothing but persistent drum rhythms and his powerful voice.

The spirit of the venue changed entirely to a calm and mystical serenity as the wind seemed to blow to the drum’s beat, rising and falling with Cliff’s voice.

Cliff disappeared offstage, only to return promptly for an encore, the single off his newest release called “One More.”

The crowd embraced the simple chorus, which repeats “one more” over and over, calling Cliff back for not two, not three, but four encores with another performance of “One More” followed by “Wonderful World Beautiful People.”

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