Shaggy consolidates his Stateside success with a short US tour...
This is, we are instructed by the self-proclaimed “hotshot” early in the
evening’s proceedings, “a reggae concert and not the opera”. Yet there’s more than a fair share of panto thrown in there too. He’d make a great pantomime dame – in a very Benny Hill kind of way – would Shaggy. Every single audience participation technique is energetically pulled out of the rock cliche handbook during the 80-minute show – never-ending singalongs, synchronised arm-waving, and lighters held aloft – yet the surprisingly below capacity crowd could not be happier.
Shaggy either. Despite having being knocked off the top of the US album charts by Dave Matthews and the UK singles charts by Westlife, the energetic Jamaican-born 32-year-old with the mischievous glint in his eye is clearly still on top of the world. And it seems somewhat fitting at the end of a week that once again saw Napster facing closure, that Shaggy – who credits his recent rebirth to the controversial, “copyright-infringing” service that, just like home-taping before it is, we are told by the industry, responsible for “killing music” – is enjoying the most successful period of his career so far.
He’s been quoted recently as saying he wants to be the Ricky Martin of reggae – and to open up the ears of America to the musical roots of his birthplace in the same way the toothy Latino has. And while he shares an equally noble mission and the sickeningly never-ending enthusiasm of his Puerto Rican counterpart, Shaggy has just as much more in common with America’s current crop of multi-million selling rappers and r’n’b superstars. In fact his technique – rapping in his distinctive patois around an infuriatingly ear-pleasing chorus filched from (and breathing new life into) a decades old, dubious ‘classic’ (see present single ‘Angel’, ‘Dance and Shout’) – isn’t too dissimilar from the working method of one Puff Daddy. Except less crap, of course.
So what if it’s recycled and cliched? It’s hard to deny the full value for money, family-friendly entertainment on offer. There’s no cussing as he trots out the hits – ‘It Wasn’t Me’, ‘Oh Carolina’ and ‘Angel’ – skanking fathers pop their toddler daughters on their shoulders and young couples skip around each other, mouthing the lines they can keep up with. All smiling broadly.
And as the set ends with a 20-minute encore/tribute to ‘The King’ Bob Marley which takes in ‘One Love’, ‘Three Little Birds’ and ‘Iron Lion Zion’ and a couple of dozen of the “laydeez” in the house are invited on stage, it’s fair to say the floor of the theatre hasn’t wobbled this much since, well, that earthquake a couple of weeks ago.