No need to persuade the audience here, who were clearly revved up for a Toots and the Maytals greatest hits session, and that’s exactly what they got. Opening with Do the Reggay from all those years ago, familiar songs followed in rapid succession, with Time Tough ratcheting up the rhythm from reggae to ska in the final bars to get people moving, a trick nicely repeated throughout the set.
After all this time, Toots clearly knows exactly how to work an audience in a seemingly effortless way, and it was straight into Pressure Drop, Amen, Sweet and Dandy, Reggae Got Soul, Louie Louie, Funky Kingston, Monkey Man and more.
The bass and rhythm guitarists didn’t move all evening, content to lay down a perfect tight rhythm throughout. The encore, while beginning with some implausibly Santana-ish guitar twiddlings, inevitably culminated in a triumphant 54-46 Was My Number. They must have played this set hundreds of times but it still sounded fresh.
No sign of any material from the new Toots album (see album review of Flip and Twist): this session was the classic sound of Toots and the Maytals in full flight which is what everyone had turned up to hear, and which presumably gives him the means to do what he wants on his new releases. Good for him, and long may it continue.
Toots and the Maytals, O2 Academy, Newcastle upon Tyne, 13th August 2010