Damian Marley, Brixton Academy, London <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

He comes on in a monk-like, loose-fitting, charcoal-grey suit, dreadlocks hanging below his waist, tall and gaunt of face on the video monitors hung either side of the stage, and with more than a little of his father in him. The legend "Jamrock", the ebullient, hard-hitting title song of Damian Marley's latest album, is reproduced graffiti-style in a huge projection of a corrugated alley backing the stage.

Two girl singers wearing khaki and black harmonise and undulate, while the band - two keyboard players, a drummer, bass and guitar rhythm section that's as tight as two coats of paint - provide a carnivalesque pulse, merging Jamaican reggae, Dancehall and American R&B with the more angular, ragga beats over which Marley spits out rapid-fire couplets that encompass, vividly and wittily, home-town Kingston conflicts alongside global, spiritual and romantic battles.

From the crashing beats of the opening "Confrontation", an eagle-eyed view of a world in crisis, punctuated by samples of Marcus Garvey in full flow, to the closing, arm-swinging anthem of "Jamrock", this excellent 20-song set both generates a huge party atmosphere with messages of awareness and, in the likes of "Babies", a lilting reggae number, speaks of the importance of responsible parenting and morality.

Jamrock was released last summer and picked up a lot of airplay via its anthemic title track, and, last month, a couple of Grammys. Being the son of Bob is no easy river to cross when it comes to making a lasting impact in music, but this youngest of the Marley brethren can claim his own turf with the power and energy of his word-heavy raps and big, swaying choruses. Bob's son by Cindy Breakspeare, he was only two when his father died in 1981, but the oft-repeated curse that comes with being the offspring of a musical icon - forever obscured in the shadow of their forebears - does not extend to him.

He released his debut in 1996, while his second album, Halfway Tree, won him a Grammy in 2002. The title referred to a Kingston roundabout that divides the ghettos and uptown. "My mom came from uptown, my dad from downtown," he said at the time, "So me myself now come like that same halfway tree."

He is, musically, a kind of sorting house of styles, delivering a show that's not wholly reggae, or rap, but indisputably Jamaican, Rastafarian, Caribbean, north American. The presence of an unremittingly energetic flag-bearer stalking the stage behind Marley underlines this point further.

Marley, wafting his Rastafarian flag as if to keep the atmosphere high, does the job. "Bit of a carnival atmosphere, isn't it?" remarks one of the usually taciturn bar staff after Marley finishes with an ebullient, crowd-pleasing cover of dad's "Could You Be Loved". His return for a three-song encore is greeted with a huge roar of affirmation for Marley's success in stepping out of his father's immense shadow.

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