Posted on 2013/07/28 17:58
  • Live Report
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As often happens with artists at the Field of Heaven, Brinsley Forde’s late afternoon set was late due to sound check, during which the day’s one permitted downpour took place (if there’s another one before 5 a.m. tomorrow, somebody’s getting arrested). So when he took the stage the rain broke and bit of sun peeked out. “The sun is always shining,” Forde said during his uplifting opening number, a reference to the spiritually positive message of reggae. As a former member of the London reggae outfit Aswad, Forde’s take on the form is more cosmopolitan, slicker even, and for the next hour-plus he mixed and match various reggae styles with rock and R&B, and kept politics out of the mix except for one interesting interlude when he advocated for marijuana, getting the audience to sing along with the line “light it up.” The crowd, which was there because they love reggae, went along with it in spirit if not exactly heart.

It was a lively and fun show, because Forde is a lively and fun guy, mixing in a bit of Temptations with the lover’s rock chestnut “Don’t Turn Around.” What he referred to as an “Aswad medley” was actually three complete Aswad songs performed in a row. We were all entreated to “remember” the songs before they were presented. He shouted out too Masa Hidaka, the festival’s founder and leader, without skipping a beat (Masa was in the wings), and asked for approval to play songs from his new album, and then got the audience to memorize the title by having them repeat it en masse three times. In his enthusiasm he mangled his Japanese courtesies, but people loved it. Reggae is just of those musical styles that, if you love it, you forgive anything done in its name.