Sometimes – a second chance comes along. Some people miss it while others prosper.
Toots Hibbert is a member of the latter group. Thankfully .
Three years ago, in Richmond, Va, some nutcase ( a drunk nutcase), tossed a bottle of Grey Goose at Toots striking him in the head. The performance ended and memory loss, a concussion, stitches and a bout with depression started.
Toots, aged 73 – is finally on the road again after settling out of court with a Richmond concert promoter. Post stress disorder is a dehabiltating ‘ting ‘ …
At the Corona Theatre in Montreal on Wednesday evening , Toots showed no ill effects from the lay -off. His voice – as soulful as ever in the true vein of one of his heroes; Otis Redding.
Hibbert, his band- and the lovely and talented ‘Maytals‘ on backing vocals, started the sold out Corona dancing early following a short but intense set from Liba Hibbert; Toots’ daughter. Liba is also one of The Maytals so having her vocals as a solo and as part of a group – a blessing. Part Mariah Carey and part Betty LaFayette – Liba could easily headline on her own.
Before ‘the show’ started, Liba was on fire. High notes? Check. Range? Check. Presence? Check. Experience as a headliner ? Needed as Liba did not have the time to hit her groove.
Once ‘ Dad’ took the stage – the Corona faithful were hook, lined and Reggay -ed.
Strikingly – the first thought upon seeing the legendary Toots in person is his appearance. Most seventy – something ‘humans’ wish they looked so good in their twi-light years. With a body that would make Mick Jagger blush and a non wrinkled facade as a beacon – Toots’ years of substance abuse ( he was tossed in jail for 18 months in 1969 for Marijuana ), a fountain of youth.
‘Pressure Drop‘ – Toots and The Maytals career defining song ( the tune got them a first U.S. appearance opening for The Who ) was part of a machine of hits at The Corona.
‘54-46 That’s My Number’, ‘Do The Reggay‘ ( Toots is credited for the term Reggae ) and the ballad ‘True Love‘ ( a Grammy – winning song in 2004) were injected into a crowd ripe for Ska / Reggae.
Toots and The Maytals were originally a ‘Ska’ band and were highly influential in the career of The Specials. Hibbert’s Gospel education and love of American Soul Music instrumental in his live shows. ‘Sweet And Dandy’ a perfect example of the two elements. Combined – forming a fashion called Reggae.
Toots’ band were combined metronomes. Machines straight from the school of Sly and Robbie. Placing their education on the sleeves of the punters in attendance. Toots himself – warming to the crowd from the get – go and arriving scolding hot as he crossed the ” finish line.
Searing the audience with dance moves reserved for men half his age.
Sometimes second chances are rare. Toots Hibbert and his legacy; a second chance second to none.