Catch a Fire Tour blazes through SDSU’s Open Air Theatre

by Steven Buriek, Contributor

On Tuesday, Sept. 22, impassioned performances and new-age reggae-roots music reverberated at the Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre for the Catch a Fire Tour.

Named after the Bob Marley and The Wailers album, the tour included Jamaican musicians Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Stephen “Ragg” Marley, Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Jo Mersa and Black Am I. Carrying on his legacy, Bob Marley’s torchbearers presented their love of reggae music to the masses.

“Generations and generations,” Stephen Marley said to the crowd between songs.

The crowd lent its ears to the brothers, uncles, sons and friends all connected to the legendary Rastafarian icon. Even the youngest performer Skip Marley, Bob Marley’s 18-year-old grandson, entertained the crowd with his single, “Cry To Me.”

The musicians fused elements of the old- and new-age reggae sound to create a more high-flown reggae-dubstep the millennial generation could appreciate. Bass blasts shook the crowd during Damian Marley’s “Make It Bun Dem” and Morgan Heritage’s “Light It Up.” The new bombastic music featured rap verses, Jamaican accents and melodic vocals.

Artists in the Catch a Fire Tour proved reggae was no longer reserved for the comfortable Rastafarian feel of the past. They presented raw-roots reggae mixed in with the newer bass-filled electronic-music age. The grit and powerful soul of these reggae lions ignited feelings of liberation, happiness and inner strength in the masses.

The performers expressed no shame in their appreciation for cannabis. Scents of marijuana roamed through the crowd like wisps of a spirited Jamaican soul.

“I have a public announcement to make, and please don’t judge me, but I love marijuana,” Riley said.

Electric energy from the soulful performances kept a charged crowd just shy of a full house lifted from their seats and bouncing on the soles of their feet. Gyrating spiritedly in front-row seats, two sisters Angelina and Cristina Hernandez shared their appreciation for the Rastafarian music at the OAT.

“My body just moves, I feel weird not dancing to this music,” Angelina said.

“It just fulfills your soul, the rhythm and the air of their songs,” Cristina said.

For the final rally, all vocalists took the stage to honor and cover the lionized father of reggae. The performers raised the pedestal of Bob Marley’s music with performances of songs like “Could You Be Loved” and “Buffalo Soldier.” The musicians welcomed the audience to sing along, and while not so much in tune, they did so enthusiastically.

For a grand finale, flames and cellphones were raised in the air to appreciate Rasta and reggae.