On Scene

Notes from around town


Pato Banton, the last act in Steamboat's 2007 Free Summer Concert Series, put on a decently solid show Friday at Howelsen Hill.

His band, Lion Vibes, held its rocksteady beat and had a horn section plenty strong for Banton to fall back on.

Banton is a charismatic performer who knows how to work his happy crowd, and he has a nice, three-decades long list of credentials to draw on (the English Beat was, and is, a great band. "Just Friends" is one of my favorite songs. Pato plays his role on infrequent tours, and he plays it well).

The Birmingham, England, scene he comes from is legendary, and its powerful music remains great to dance to. But somewhere along the way, the majority of reggae lost its message.

It doesn't make sense: there's still oppression, there's still war, there's still horrible wrongs. And there are still, as reggae has always sought to remind us, the things that make it all bearable.

But we're somehow left with Pato Banton onstage, dressed in a white tracksuit, rhyming eloquently and bouncing ridiculously. He toasts and spins, he introduces lyrical paragraphs with, "My name is Pato Banton, this is my opinion."

It's not that his opinion is moot, and it's not that the band backing him isn't soul-powered.

It's that his words have a hollow ring, that all he has to do is say "Bush" and "bad" in the same drawn-out breath to be greeted with thunderous applause.

It's that reggae keeps going in its legends and its underground, but in its dimmer, more visible lights it has become a caricature of itself. That infectious backbeat might still be danceable, but it lost its resonance a long time ago.

All that is made worse by Banton's constant hints to his loyal audience that he's still relevant: a diatribe about the merits of pot smoking that must have lasted 20 minutes or more, name-dropping the Beat, name-dropping members of the Beat, and namedropping recent tourmates 311 (who were, for the record, never good).

- Margaret Hair


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 8 months ago

I guess you can call this review "My name is Margaret Hair, this is my opinion". I suppose that the fact that your most recent job as a record store clerk that specializes in noise shows would be excellent credentials to criticize a musical legend who has used his influence to do more for the poor and downtrodden in his community than you or I will do in our lifetime. To wit:

He set up a community organization that linked about 20 community centers together in the most deprived area of the city. He raised money from the British government to put musical equipment in every community center.

Within the first year of Banton's quest to ameliorate the crime and violence in his home, the top college in the city, Matthew Boulton College, invited Banton and his team to set up a music department there.

Banton's program provided these kids a doorway into the college, and it became a huge success across the city, he became the head of the music department in the first six months, he earned his teaching qualifications and counseling skills qualifications, and he received a lifetime achievement award from the city. He then went on to work with five other colleges across the region. He taught at kindergartens, secondary schools and set up music departments in about 20 different schools.

I guess that you also missed his other message, that of bringing peace to this world:

"This isn't about playing music to make money, this is a mission for me. It's like a mission for spreading positive messages," said Banton. "I think people need to be hearing self-empowerment messages today, messages touching on social, family and political issues. But not just looking at them in a negative light, looking in from a spiritual viewpoint and being positive about the different situations that are going on right now."

Maybe if Mr. Bush and his cronies would take Pato's advice, we would not be wasting billion of dollars and countless lives in a senseless war, and maybe moving towards "One World". Now wouldn't that be relevant?

One more quote: "Music for me is not about the business. It's not about a career. Talent is a God-given thing. For me, to show my appreciation to God is to use my life and my talent to serve God and to serve people. I tour to share my thoughts, to share positive vibes and to touch people."

Before the show I saw him standing where they were selling CD's and felt compelled to go up and meet him. He was very gracious, asked my name, what I did, how long I had lived here and said what a beautiful place it was here. I left feeling I had met an extraordinary man who truly believes in his message, and his show proved it. Too bad you didn't get the message Margaret. Maybe when you grow up.

P.S. Alison, Please, please come back!!!



Matthew Stoddard 9 years, 8 months ago

I actually think of this as a true review of what she saw. Every review is the reviewer's opinion. She gave props where she thought it was deserved and thought the political message of his music was lacking. When you look at "pop" reggae of the last decade, I believe it holds true. Shaggy and Sean Paul's hits have been reggae versions of "pop" rap, which has also lost it's message. Since I didn't see the show, can't say I know whether the message was lost or not.

I'm not a personal fan of reggae; just not my preference. Since I've never heard of this person, I can't say anything about political relevance. To me, I want good music and keep the political grandstanding at home. While I would love to have Alison come back, I can look at this review and say it outdoes anything that Autumn ever did.


steamboatsconscience 9 years, 8 months ago

Kiel What are you doing on the computer on such a nice day? LOL In her quest to be the Siskel and Ebert of SS, she cant see the forest for the trees, nitpicking the name dropping (big deal) while not seeing the bigger picture. Reggae IS political and it is rooted in the religious (and non religious) beliefs of peace and coexistence. We in the audience did not miss the point, we were Jammin! She is the one who did. Her loss. I heard that he really liked it here and may be back. Maybe Maggie can interview him if she's still around! Check out his website http://www.patobanton.com/ Wonder if Autumn made it through the lobster season in Maine this year? Havent seen her on"Lobster War on Discovery yet!


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