Music review: Toots and the Maytals

Frederick "Toots" Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals Hibbert looked in great shape dressed in a black bandana and sunglasses at the head of a five-piece band that featured other original members. Picture: Katie Stratton/Getty Images
Frederick "Toots" Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals Hibbert looked in great shape dressed in a black bandana and sunglasses at the head of a five-piece band that featured other original members. Picture: Katie Stratton/Getty Images
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Frederick “Toots” Hibbert practices good vibes as much as he preaches them through the music of his now 55 years-young Jamaican ensemble Toots and the Maytals – literally the group to give reggae its name with their 1968 single Do the Reggay. After being hit in the head with a glass bottle at a show in the US in 2013 – causing him serious injury and forcing him to cease touring for a long spell – the 74-year-old nobly tried in vain to get his assailant’s jail sentence reduced by writing to the judge to say: “He is a young man, and I have heard what happens to young men in jail.”

ABC, Glasgow ****

A jail stint of his own as a young man is the subject of one of Hibbert’s most famous songs, 54-46 That’s My Number. It made for a rousing finale to this consummately feelgood show packed with hits. Now fighting fit again, Hibbert looked in great shape dressed in a black bandana and sunglasses at the head of a five-piece band that featured other original members including drummer Paul Douglas and guitarist Radcliffe “Dougie” Bryan. Hibbert’s distinctively soulful voice – supported by close harmonies from three female backing vocalists – remains a powerful instrument, capable of transcending genres as it tore into covers of The Kingsmen’s Louie Louie and John Denver’s Country Road.

Toots and the Maytals scarcely need covers when their iconic originals are so numerous – Pressure Drop, Funky Kingston, Monkey Man and Sweet and Dandy to name just a handful performed here. The sea of audience members’ heads bobbing up and down in a massive group skank by the end was a joyous sight to behold.

MALCOLM JACK