It was an energetic performance of spirituality, vitality, and history making - both in presentation and philosophy. Jimmy Cliff and his band came out to have a good time and that is what they did at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside PA. The Iconic legend started his set with a drum circle (Nyabinghi) with a spiritual séance type introduction with adopted old church songs/choruses, which included the unforgettable “By the Rivers of Babylon,” where Jimmy engaged the audience to sing along. This introduction provided the mood to start the history lesson lived by the icon himself. Cliff took the audience on the journey of his life, which made it more than just a jam session but proved to be intensely informative.
The packed venue was filled with reggae fans and music lovers, which included those who traveled from Delaware, New Jersey and New York. Many marveled at Jimmy’s energetic dances, stage presence and few in the audience were even guessing his age. The exception to the rule of being over the age of sixty and moving like a twenty five year old was a bit too much for some to handle. Cliff’s willing spirit willed his body to follow throughout the set and his vocal range and display was impeccable. It seems like his voice got stronger like sweet wine over time.
The set was a mixture of soulful ska and classic reggae rhythms as Jimmy Cliff and his band filled the hall with their musical offerings. Hits like “Sitting In Limbo,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” “Wild World,” “Wonderful World, Beautiful People,” “Vietnam,” (reworked as Afghanistan in the show) “Many Rivers To Cross,” “The Harder They Come,” “I Can See Clearly Now,” “World Upside Down,” and the list goes on.
A concert that began pretty reserved with a seated audience was transformed into a ‘standing room’ temple of Jimmy Cliff. The night ended with two encores and the last song of the evening was “One More.” Opening the show was vocalist/guitarist Ethan Tucker.