I was supposed to see Gregory Isaacs in Cincinnati on March 7th, but a freak blizzard ruined my plans. Not one easily discouraged when it comes to concerts, I decided to catch him a week later in Boston. (Thank goodness for frequent flyer miles.)
I got to the Hard Rock Cafe a little after 10:00. The first opening act was already playing when I arrived. I really should’ve wandered the streets of Boston a little more as the next half hour consisted of some of the worst live music I’ve ever heard in my life. The guilty party was a local band called Street Credit. Every single song sounded like an inferior rewrite of “Give It Away” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers…combined with early Phish. It was crowded, though, and I didn’t want to lose my spot, so I stuck it out.
The second band on the bill was Live Wyya. They were a legitimate Jamaican band who warmed up the crowd with some classic reggae tunes (“No More Trouble”, “Them Belly Full”, a Culture cover) and some surprisingly decent originals (“Johnny”, “Master Piece”). The best song was Damien Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock” which was made even better by synchronized running-in-place by four of the band members. I know it sounds silly, but it was a lot of fun to see. I liked these guys.
Live Wyya was the opening act, and they also served as Gregory Isaacs’ backing band. When they finished up their set, their singer left the stage and was replaced by the Cool Ruler himself. Let’s get this out of the way right here: Gregory Isaacs is old and looks a bit like a homeless person. He mumbles a lot of his words and looked like he was going to die of a heart attack by the end of his set, but he sweated through his clothes and gave it his all. He’s about 20 years past his prime, but he’s still worth seeing in concert.
Gregory Isaacs & Live Wyya basically played one long medley of songs. They stopped and rested every now and then, but mostly it was non-stop reggae classics. I knew just about everything they played. Although they played a “medley” of sorts, that doesn’t mean the songs were truncated. They played full versions and squeezed at least 16-17 songs into their 50 minute set. Gregory Isaacs wasn’t on stage very long, but I still felt like I got more than my money’s worth. To be honest, I would’ve paid the $20 just to hear him sing “Love Is Overdue”. Add “My Number One”, “Top Ten”, “Night Nurse”, “Red Rose For Gregory”, and “Front Door” into the mix, and I’d call that a bargain. Gregory Isaacs is still a great performer, and I feel honored to have seen the man live. My trip was well worth it.
My handwriting was completely illegible that night, so here’s the typed out setlist for anyone interested:
Main set: My Number One/Rock On/Top Ten/Stranger in Town–>African Woman/Oh What a Feeling/Private Beach Party/All I Have Is Love/Love Is Overdue/Soon Forward/Mr. Brown/Hang On/Thank You/Rumours/Night Nurse
Encore: Red Rose For Gregory/Front Door