It is a testament to Bob Marley that, nearly 30 years after his death, he remains the most visible icon of reggae music. In fact, most reggae since Marley’s untimely death has lacked the earnestness and the urgency of his body of work, leaving him the long reigning king of the genre.
Six-and-a-half months before Marley succumbed to cancer, he and his band, the Wailers, performed their final concert at the Stanley Theatre, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Widely traded by live music aficionados, this concert is reaching the masses as the two-disc set Live Forever.
Beginning with “Natural Mystic,” the legend and his band catch fire with a relaxed, deliberate groove that personifies reggae. That easy feeling continues into “Positive Vibration,” fuels the synth-laden dub of “Heathen,” and surges through the soulful “No Woman No Cry.”
Live Forever plays out like a pristine, live, greatest hits set characterized by the polish and professionalism of Bob Marley and his band in his twilight. It may lack the unbridled political fire that burned molten through the peak of his career, but this historic, cherished performance is a sweet salutation to a true legend of reggae that has yet to be matched.
Live Forever is out now on Tuff Gong Records.