The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world




JANUARY 26 2011



One of the interesting things about this year’s Ragga Muffin is that so many people are here to see Sean Paul, to be perfectly honest I’ve vaguely heard of him and when I get shown some You Tube it clicks – I definitely do not want to see him! So when he decides to not turn up I’m happy and a lot of other people are disappointed. I came here to see The Wailers and Jimmy Cliff anyway, both legends no matter what sort of music is your usual flavour. I don’t know too many who don’t have a soft spot for Reggae… 


I didn’t manage to check the numbers but I guess at peak there may be two thousand here; now whether that is the general Perth malaise or the fact that it’s Australia Day I’m not sure but those not here miss out on what turns out to be a great day of reggae.




I’m not expecting much and have not heard much about The Black Keys in recent years but the put on a decent set of fairly low key reggae, with a nice beat and a fuller sound with percussion and two leads sharing the vocal duties. S an eight piece they achieve a nice full sound that pleases the crowd. Whilst the Keys are more what I’d call funk, a nice horn section keeps it interesting up until the point that they degenerate and embark on the Jamiroquai-lite road to ruin.


The Red Eyes


The Black Keys



Ky-Mani Marley


One of the early highs for me is finally getting to see Ky-Mani Marley, the second youngest child of the legendary Bob. The vest thing about his set for me at least is that the originals he performs before breaking into the obligatory numbers from his father’s great catalogue are certainly good enough in their own right to get me to write down the name of the forthcoming CD.


Ky-Mani does a great rendition of ‘No Woman No Cry’ so beautiful in the afternoon sun. His voice very like his father Bob but just a little sweeter. When that ends and the band break into a simply wonderful ‘Redemption Song’ with some wonderful heavy drums it just confirms the stature of what has always been one of m y favorite songs of all-time. Already this is going to be hard to beat. The real funked up/laid back version of ‘I Shot the Sheriff’ shows what a great band he has behind him, this version may be lacking a little of the emotion of the first two but it gets the whole crowd moving and grooving and it’s a nice way to lead out.




The Original Wailers


The Original Wailers open up with two new songs which are kinda cool before breaking into ‘Natty Dreadlock’ and a few older songs. It's a nice atmosphere as we wait for the West Australian sun to finally go down. The guys are in fine form. Guitars are louder in the mix than you might imagine and all the originals share the front of the stage.


‘Stir it Up’ gets a huge cheer from the crowd but to be honest we were all enjoying the rest of it too. OK so there's nothing quite like an original and whilst it might not be Bob up there singing it's the boys that stood behind him out there on the stage. The wonder of songs like this never really go away.



Apart from the usual few young lads arseing about, the crowd is pretty loved up by now and gently shaking their collective bootys. ‘Buffalo Soldier’ gets some shrieks of delight and ‘Exodus’ seals the deal. Great to see some musical legends who still have it.




Maxi Priest


Sean Paul doesn’t show due to ‘unspecified circumstances beyond our control’ we make up the ‘gap’ by running late until the gaps is gone. As I said SP’s absence doesn’t bother me but there are a number of people who have bought their tickets primarily to see him.  


Maxi priest comes on first before Sean’s no-show has become apparent and kills us softly with a storming rendition of Cat Stewart’s ‘Wild World’. He’s undoubtedly very enigmatic with his dreads to his arse and engages the crowd well. He has even brought his son over from London England and announces that ‘It’s great to be back in this wonderful country ‘cos Australia loves reggae’ well we creatinly are doing and in a set with plenty of crowd participation you get the feeling that everyone is happy.



The legendary Jimmy Cliff


Jimmy cliff is a legend, he’s also pretty old which makes the quality of his voice all the more impressive.  Starting with his dub reggae he hits his stride with ‘Afganistan’ and proclaims ‘Peace in the world’ it’s a beautiful sentiment from a master.


‘Many Rivers to Cross’ is a massive song that sadly a good few people in the crowd think it’s a cover of a rather dull Australian Artist. I’m happy to point out the error of their ways. In the chilly Fremantle dark as people sway and gaze, it would be mighty powerful stuff in any genre of music.




Mr Cliff's mighty fine backing singers


Jimmy does look old and slight in his white tracksuit and black cap but there's soul and beauty and power still in his voice and deep in that soul, you can see that in his eyes. He straps his guitar on for ‘I Can see Clearly Now’ which is one of the moments I came to see and it doesn’t disappoint. Even in 2011 Jimmy Cliff is one of those artists you have to see live to get an idea of the power and the emotion he can convey.

A drum-heavy working of ‘Mary’s Boy Child’ is beautiful with just percussion and voice and then a master leaves the stage.


Mary J Blige


Mary J Blige has any times her weight in awards, she’s won lot’s of shiny things and has a lot of respect in the music world. Remember she did that version of ‘One’ with U2! Tonight it's soul all the way, very spiritual, very smooth, very un-reggae.


She’s one of those artists you think you don't know but when you hear her you realise you do. I can appreciate the crispness of the production, the precision of the players and the great voice but philistine that I am it just lacks a little ‘real’ soul for me.




What an unexpectedly awesome day, when the bits you anticipate exceed your anticipation and the rest just falls into place, a fine night and the Rockpit was honoured to be there.



Images and words by Mark Diggins