Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Bob Marley’s 71st birthday celebration held at Iron Horse in Northampton

By Kenny Borges

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(Courtesy of Official Ras Spective Facebook Page)

(Courtesy of Official Ras Spective Facebook Page)

A celebratory concert was held at Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall last Saturday on what would have marked the 71st birthday of Reggae icon Bob Marley. Reggae band Ras Spectiv commuted from Hartford, Connecticut to pay homage to the late musician, who is attributed with spreading Jamaican music and Rastafarian culture to the world.

Reggae fans lined up at the door early before the show began, bracing the cold to gain entrance into the concert. By the time Ras Spectiv started playing, the venue was nearly full. After the first couple songs, the dance floor quickly filled up with an enthusiastic audience. The diverse crowd demonstrated Marley’s broad cultural impact – Some were old, others young and the racially diverse audience was split evenly between male and female as well.

Those in attendance seemed to be united by the peaceful and self-righteous ideals expressed by the Jamaican icon and the band that honored him on his birthday. The concert was prefaced with a short statement about the importance of Marley’s legacy and was reinforced during the short intervals between songs. Chants of “Rasta-far-” were heard from both the performers and the fans alike. For someone unfamiliar with Reggae and Rastafarian culture, last Saturday’s show served as an educational event. The movement was described by band members as a sort of “spiritual warfare” in which individuals could overcome oppression and be united by positivity and love.

The show was spearheaded by an impressive and charismatic performance by the band’s lead singer, Ras Ngosi Anbassa. While playing Bob Marley classics, the band made sure to add a personal touch by making each song their own. A notable example was when the lead singer turned to his guitarist mid-song and introduced him to the crowd. Announcing him as his man, Dave, on guitar and asking him, “What’s in the bag?” as the skillful musician demonstrated his “tricks” with an intricate guitar solo as he was cheered on by his bandmate.

Ras Spective continued to demonstrate strong band chemistry throughout the show. Driven by the steady percussion of Matt Moadel and grooving guitar from Dave Reiss, the group played with a sense of power and positivity. Anbassa’s dominant vocals were complimented by the subtle back-up provided by Natasha May DiMarco. Each musician stayed in remarkable time with each other, not only playing each piece correctly, but with a sense of personality and artistic expression. With seemingly perfect chemistry, band members danced and interacted with each other and the crowd. The jubilant atmosphere present on stage was felt on the dance floor as smiles were visible throughout the venue.

Another memorable moment was during an empowered rendition of the Marley classic “Get up, Stand Up.” As the crowd sang along to the chorus, the singer raised his fist to the ceiling and instructed the audience to follow his lead, telling everyone to raise one hand and stand up for themselves, once again reflecting the peaceful, yet rebellious ideals of Marley himself.

The concert was a joyous and truly memorable occasion for Bob Marley fans. Ras Spectiv provided a lively and purposeful performance that reflected the strong musical, cultural and ideological impacts of the Reggae legend. The greatest indication of the band’s success was clearly in the reaction and involvement of the crowd. People from various demographics sang and danced as one, at an event that felt much more like a celebration than a concert.


Kenneth Borges can be contacted at [email protected]

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