Live at Pacific Amphitheatre
July 17, 2023 Review by Jason Roberts
With the Orange County Fair due to start a week later, The Green and Hirie show stood alone to bring together a nice blend of island and beach music. With acts from Orange County to Jamaica to Hawaii, the Pacific Amphitheatre event featured live performances by Common Sense, Jesse Royal, Mike Love, Hirie, and The Green.
First to paddle out, OC reggae surf legends Common Sense kicked off the five-band, Islander-themed festival. Early in the set, lead singer Nick Hernandez joked about the donkeys and cows as he pointed out the unique, Orange County Fairground setting with farm animals grazing intimately within the venue.
With extra time allotted, the band further emphasized SoCal history, performing a cover of The Doors’ hit song “Break on Through (to the Other Side),” blending both ska/punk and high-energy reggae into the number. Common Sense also performed hit songs “Poundy Pound” and “Never Give Up.” As legends, Common Sense launched the celebration of spirit for this multi-band occasion.
Up next was Jesse Royal with MC Ras Rebel hyping the crowd up with, “Are you ready for some roots reggae music from Kingston, Jamaica?” Jesse Royal didn’t disappoint, thanks to an interactive performance with the crowd. Before his hit song “High Tide or Low,” he said, “In order to appreciate good, there has to be bad, and in order to appreciate life, you have to truly understand life.” He then involved the crowd with singing the lyrics to the chorus.
An interesting moment came when Jesse Royal was getting into his intro for his song “Finally,” stating that he can finally walk around with his spliff and “smoke it in peace.”
Towards the end of his set, he brought out the classic Bob Marley cover, “Waiting in Vain,” bringing the vibes of the people in the audience together. After the song, he said that he likes to “share a moment with the audience” when he performs, rather than simply “playing a set.” He finished with his hit song, “Lion Order,” and having the crowd chant, “When I say people, you say power.”
I did not know what to expect from Mike Love as the stage was set up for only one band member. I figured it would be a mellow acoustic performance. I was definitely wrong as he put together a set that sounded like a full band was playing. Mike Love used every part of his body as a musical instrument, including his feet. Love didn’t state the name of the song, but my favorite had a similar rhythm to Billy Idol’s “Eyes Without a Face,” with a reggae style and a positive message of change.
Love asked the audience, “How do we make a change?” He answered that, saying that all we can do is change ourselves and make our best choices and give our wealth and knowledge back to the community and our family. He finished his set with “Permanent Holiday,” and said, “Thank you very much for the love and respect to keep doing this music.” It was a great ending for the audience to get warmed up for Hirie.
The buzz was definitely in the venue in anticipation of Hirie’s performance as the crowd filled in.
The band started out with a nice rhythm, and lead singer Trish Jetton walked out in an elegant outfit with a smile on her face. She kicked off her set with “Respect,” interacting with the crowd during her performance.
During her fifth song, she performed a classic version of Tina Turner’s “Rolling on the River,” leading into her own hit song, “You Won’t Be Alone.” At the end of the song, she spoke her heart, saying, “Many people suffer from mental illness, but know that you are not alone.” The next song was “Blacklist” with sax player Chris Hampton filling in for Matisyahu’s part. Toward the end of Hirie’s set, she played a mash up of classic reggae covers including Marcia Aitken’s “I’m Still in Love with You Boy,” and The Abyssinians’ “Satta Massagana.” Hirie finished their set with “Chocolate.”
As the sun finished setting, headliner The Green hit the stage with many great melodic sing-along songs, including their hit song, “I’m Yours.” The Green did an awesome job of switching their band members on lead vocals; during “Blue Skies,” keyboard player Ikaika Antone jumped in to do a great job in place of Keznamdi, who originally sang on their album. Lead singer Caleb Keolanui stepped back in for “Mama Roots.”
The song, “Alive” definitely got the crowd singing along and swaying to the beat. They continued playing a series of feel-good songs, including “Love I.” One of my favorite moments had almost everyone in the audience singing “All I Need,” as the band was interacting with the crowd and allowing them to sing the chorus.
The Green closed their set with a great new song called “Summertime,” then came back for an encore with “Coming Home.” As an intro to the final song, Caleb Keolanui said, “Family we love you; right now we have to do one for our Ohana back at home.”
It was a fantastic evening of music, a perfect blend of summer sounds and sights.
SHOW PHOTO GALLERY
by Brian Ross Photography
SID 230718 | TRACI TURNER, EDITOR