Toots and the Maytals, Shepherd's Bush Empire, London

4.00

Touring on the back of
True Love, his excellent new album of his own classics, with guests ranging from Terry Hall and Ben Harper through Bootsy Collins and Shaggy to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, Toots Hibbert has just pushed open the door on 40 years in the music business.

Touring on the back of True Love, his excellent new album of his own classics, with guests ranging from Terry Hall and Ben Harper through Bootsy Collins and Shaggy to Keith Richards and Eric Clapton, Toots Hibbert has just pushed open the door on 40 years in the music business.

The man who invented the term "reggae", with his 1968 single "Do the Reggay", retains the soulful, rousing power of a voice that has sung to successive generations of fans - The Specials and The Clash covered his songs - and tonight's concert is proof that sometimes good things really do improve with age. The Maytals - including the drummer Paul Douglas, the bassist Jackie Johnson and the guitarist Dougie Bryan - play exultant music, effortlessly combining reggae, rock, blues and soul.

The Selecter, key players in the British ska revival at the end of the Seventies, open the show. The band's spiky, itchy take on ska helped to define the two-tone sound, but all that is in the past: now, only Pauline Black remains. In skinny, black-striped pants and grey trilby, Black may look as if she's never left the two-tone stage but this is Selecter Acoustic, which means the singer and Mike Walsh, formerly of Bad Manners, on acoustic guitars.

Black's slightly theatrical approach to a song sounds at odds with the acoustic strum - which is more redolent of a pub session - but though the beam of the zeitgeist has passed, the voice and the songs are still good. The duo open with "Three Minute Hero", and thereafter Desmond Dekker's "Israelites" nestles alongside other ska-revival hits, such as "A Message to You". It's a sprightly enough warm-up for the arrival of Hibbert.

It's the first night of a tour that will include a headlining appearance on Glastonbury's jazz stage. Now pushing 60, an exuberant Hibbert cuts the kind of figure you would expect of one of the true architects of reggae. Musically, he is lord of all he surveys, and the band are in cracking form in a night of classics and extended jams.

The beat shakes the foundations, and with two keyboard-players, a horn section and female singers, the textures of the sound range through deep reggae, on the excellent Willie Nelson cover "Still Is Still Moving to Me", to a superlative "Pressure Drop", shifting tempo from Stones rock into a lulling reggae groove, and back again.

Hibbert is bandleader as well as vocalist, often disappearing to the side of the stage to observe proceedings; when he returns, everything changes. He has showbiz down pat, working somewhere between Kingston and the Apollo. Only occasionally does the showbiz glad-handing of the audience make the music slip from focus. But on this form, Toots and the Maytals are above criticism.

Northumbria University, Newcastle, tonight; Dome, Brighton, tomorrow; Glastonbury Festival, 26 June

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the Tiger: Meet the hunters tasked with protecting Russia's rare Amur tiger

    Hunters protect Russia's rare Amur tiger

    In an unusual move, wildlife charities have enlisted those who kill animals to help save them. Oliver Poole travels to Siberia to investigate
    Transfers: How has your club fared in summer sales?

    How has your club fared in summer sales?

    Who have bagged the bargain buys and who have landed the giant turkeys
    Warwick Davis: The British actor on Ricky Gervais, how the Harry Potter set became his office, and why he'd like to play a spy

    'I'm a realist; I know how hard this business is'

    Warwick Davis on Ricky Gervais, Harry Potter and his perfect role
    The best swim shorts for men: Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer

    The best swim shorts for men

    Bag yourself the perfect pair and make a splash this summer
    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Has Ukip’s Glastonbury branch really been possessed by the devil?

    Meet the couple blamed for bringing Lucifer into local politics
    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup