Invades Hollywood Bowl
September 28, 2022 by Todd Markel
UB40’s Bigga Baggariddim tour has been crossing North America and could not return to England without a SoCal stop. Last week, the reggae legends brought The Original Wailers, Maxi Priest, and Big Mountain to the iconic Hollywood Bowl for an evening of reggae jams.
This summer, the legendary Hollywood Bowl is celebrating 100 years of bringing live music and culture to the people of Los Angeles and the Southern California area. Named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the 10 best live music venues in America​, ​it’s the premiere location in Los Angeles to see and be seen. Putting aside the hilly terrain and stacked parking, it really is a pleasure to see a show at the Bowl. The sound is absolutely perfect and everyone I met was as nice as could be.
A cool breeze was blowing through the canyons with just a hint of the scent of marijuana setting the stage for the night to come. Public radio station KCRW was bringing its 20th annual reggae music night to the Bowl with some of the genre’s biggest artists playing their most popular hits. Reggae music is feel-good music​; there are no bad vibes at a reggae show​. ​It’s a chance to leave your worries behind and live in the moment. 
BIG MOUNTAIN LIVE | PHOTO by Todd Markel Rock Photography
The San Diego-born band Big Mountain was first up to play their island-inspired music. Lead singer Quino asked the crowd if they were ready for some reggae and they gave the people what they wanted. They had a brief, but enjoyable set, definitely making good use of the time given. They ended with the crowd favorite and their biggest hit, “Baby I Love Your Way,” sounding just as good as it did in 1994 when it was featured on the “Reality Bites” soundtrack. 
Up next was the UK artist Maxi Priest who’s renowned for combining reggae music with R&B influences, and in the process, creating something known as reggae fusion. His first song, “Wild World,” was originally a hit for Cat Stevens in 1970, but Priest gives it his own unique spin and had the entire crowd singing along to the chorus of “Oh baby baby it’s a wild world​.” Priest brings a unique style by adding hip-hop and dancehall to his performance and had many of the fans dancing along in the aisles. His cover of Stephen Bishop’s song “On and On” was a highlight, and had me singing along to “Down in Jamaica, they got lots of pretty women​.” 
MAXI PRIEST LIVE | PHOTO by Todd Markel Rock Photography
Reggae aficionado and former co-host of “Reggae Beat” on KCRW, Roger Steffens​ gave an inspiring introduction to The Original Wailers Featuring Al Anderson. Anderson was the guitarist in The Wailers for Bob Marley and for Peter Tosh on the albums “Legalize it” and “Equal Rights.” After Marley died​, he rejoined the Wailers, continuing to perform and keeping the memory and legacy of Bob Marley alive. Chet Samuel is their singer and he does a fantastic job paying tribute to Marley. A song well known by all, “I Shot the Sheriff​,” was first up, followed by “Stir it Up,” and “Could You Be Loved,” ending with my favorite “Three Little Birds” and its eternally happy thought, “Don’t worry about a thing, ‘cause every little thing is gonna be all right​.” They played a great set​; I only wished that it lasted a little longer.

There is a reason the Bowl was near capacity tonight; in terms of record sales, UB40 is one of the most successful reggae acts of all time. This tour is in support of their new album, “Bigga Baggariddim,” which features collaborations with various artists such as Tippa Irie, KIOKO, House of Shem, and Inner Circle.
UB40 LIVE | PHOTO by Todd Markel Rock Photography
They started the night with their cover of the Al Green song “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)​.” When former UB40 singer Duncan Campbell announced his retirement in 2021, Matt Doyle, the singer of British reggae band KIOKO was chosen as his replacement. Doyle seems to be a perfect fit for the group; he’s able to sing their classic hits absolutely perfectly, and smoothly, ​and fits in with the group.
Next up was “The Way You ​Do ​the ​Things ​You ​Do​,” which was a big hit for The Temptations back in 1964 and then again for UB40 in 1989. That has always been their strong suit​; taking songs that were popular in one genre and reworking them with a reggae sound and making them hits again for a whole new generation.
UB40 LIVE | PHOTO by Todd Markel Rock Photography
Off “Bigga Baggariddim,” they played the tune “You Don’t Call Me Anymore,” which just happened to be the song that Doyle’s former band KIOKO collaborated with UB40 on. Probably the song most associated with UB40 is “Red, Red Wine” and the crowd obviously loved and appreciated it, as everyone in the audience was singing along with their wine glasses and bottles raised in the air, swinging them back and forth in time to the music.
UB40 LIVE | PHOTO by Todd Markel Rock Photography
The lights went out and the crowd cheered for more. The band returned to play the triple threat encore of “Food For Thought​,” “Kingston Town,” and “Can’t Help Falling in Love​,” which once again had the entire audience singing along in unison to “Wise men say, only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you​.”
I think as we all left, you couldn’t help but feel what a wonderful show and a great night of music it was at the Hollywood Bowl with UB40.


by Todd Markel Rock Photography


ocmn 2022


%d bloggers like this: