The Black Uhuru show was thankfully worth the wait that some unfortunate fans had to endure on Saturday night.
Some people holding tickets for the show at The Hood Bar and Pizza had to wait more than an hour before gaining admission; the poor fans who did not already have tickets were told that only a small fraction of them would be able to get in.
As the fans trickled in, local reggae band Tribe-O showed off their solid traditional reggae sound. The Indio group was a perfect choice to open the show.
Formed in Jamaica in 1972, Black Uhuru’s only remaining original member seems to be Derrick “Duckie” Simpson. Andrew Bees, added to the group in recent years, along with backing vocalist Kaye Stahr, joins Simpson to make up the core of today’s Black Uhuru.
After an introduction by a member of the Black Uhuru crew, the band played a bass-driven reggae instrumental before Duckie, Andrew and Kaye arrived and opened with “Utterance.” While Bees and Stahr were stunning with their vocals, Duckie’s presence was hard to feel—he mostly stuck to backup vocals.
During “Party in Session,” a big guy standing in front of the stage lit up a joint and puffed smoke into the air. it wasn’t long before a member of The Hood’s security made his way through the audience.
Black Uhuru’s set included songs ranging from early classics such as “What is Life,” to a new single released online only, “Chalice.” The 90-minute set also included “General Penitentiary,” “Guess Who’s Coming for Dinner” and, toward the end, “Sinsemilla.”
The band sounded tight; many of the classics sounded great; and some of the newer songs fit well into the set list. Still, it was obvious that Black Uhuru is not the band it once was. Backing vocalist Puma Jones passed away in 1990, and other veteran band members have moved on. The three core members now have a group of touring musicians backing them, and while that’s not a bad thing, one has to wonder what a Black Uhuru show in the ’70s and ’80s was like. Still, the songs are still great; the Rastafarian spirituality is still fueling the fire; and the band left the audience at The Hood thoroughly entertained.
The star of the show is definitely Andrew Bees. His energy and passion lit up the stage. As long as he is part of Black Uhuru, the band is very much worth seeing.