Damian Marley wows the Commodore with a night of unforgettable reggae

Damian Marley with Caleb Hart at the Commodore Ballroom, 9/26/17

Damien Marley @ Commodore
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley – son of the legendary Bob Marley – rocked the Commodore stage Tuesday night (September 26) with enough music, love and social awareness to start a small revolution.

The sold-out show began with Tobago-export Caleb Hart dancing his way across the stage and into our hearts. Though Hart’s lyrics strayed into the profound, with heartfelt choruses like “we don’t wanna live this way anymore”, the mood never dipped. Within seconds of taking the stage Hart brought the whole room to its feet.

After Hart, though, came a nearly hour-long wait for Marley to take the stage. There were rumours our famously strong B.C. bud had done him in…but if it did, Marley pulled himself together soon after, stating “it’s a plant that has been a big part of my life since I can remember”.

With his trademark floor-length dreadlocks in full swing, 39-year-old Marley took to the stage before a backdrop screen featuring various politically-charged images of – among other things – wars, dictators and refugees. To Marley’s right stood a man known to Facebook as “Damian Marley’s Flagman”, and rightly so. Waving the Ethiopian Lion of Judah flag (without stopping) for the entire show, the man brought dedication to new heights.

Streaming effortlessly between songs from his new album Stony Hill, a ton of old favourites like “More Justice” and a few classics of his father’s, Marley kept the energy up right through to the end. Blended throughout the songs, however, were several invitations for the audience to consider the inequities of the world. With such hypotheticals as “what would they do if those with hungry stomachs stopped and took from those who aren’t sharing?”, Marley grounded the evening with the sobering reminder that ideas like “One Love” might still only exist in music.

The genius of Stony Hill reared its head time and again with songs like “Time Travel” weaving the old reggae with the new, while still looking hard into the future. Looking at the Bible, the moon landing, and so many of humanity’s achievements, Marley celebrated our triumphant past while looking ahead with a mixture of trepidation and excitement. The arms kept waving and the music kept pounding, but there was no mistaking the heaviness of Marley’s ideas in-between. By the time Marley ended the evening with a heartfelt “God bless you”, there was a clear picture of the stony hill ahead, but no doubt as to how we’ll crest it.