Ben Harper and band brings soul and swagger back to Boston

by Beacon Staff • September 13, 2006

"Are you seeing this?" a woman in the audience asked. "He's making love to that guitar."

Harper swapped guitars and tempos throughout his performance at the Bank of America Pavilion last Friday to accommodate swaying, soft and melodic tunes like "Diamonds on the Inside" and full jam sessions with his band, the Innocent Criminals, from "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating" a cut from their latest album Both Sides of the Gun.,When Ben Harper took the stage, the talented and versatile musician made it easy to get in on the musical love fest.

"Are you seeing this?" a woman in the audience asked. "He's making love to that guitar."

Harper swapped guitars and tempos throughout his performance at the Bank of America Pavilion last Friday to accommodate swaying, soft and melodic tunes like "Diamonds on the Inside" and full jam sessions with his band, the Innocent Criminals, from "Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating" a cut from their latest album Both Sides of the Gun.

At one point during the shoe, Harper abandoned his microphone and belted lyrics toward the crowd. That moment showed that Harper's got soul. You can hear it in his voice and lyrics and see it in his face and body language.

Openers Damian, Stephen and Julian Marley, the offspring of reggae legend Bob, and their band joined Harper onstage to sing their fathers " Get up, Stand Up," with watch singer taking his turn on a verse. Each brought his own vibe to the song, and together they brought some originality to an old classic.

Harper ended the show with multiple encores. One, which included a cover of Neil Young's " Heart of Gold."

Much of the time, it was as if the crowd of nearly 5,000 people wasn't even there, but rather just Harper and his band, making music just because that's what they were made to do.

The set from Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, the youngest Marley, the youngest Marley brother, was a truly sensory experience: the smell of pot smoke filled the air along with his distinct reggae sounds.

He released his first record, titled Mr.Marley, in 1996. Since then, Damian has released four more, including his most recent release, Welcome to Jamrock, which won two Grammy Awards.

Although known by true reggae enthusiasts for at least 10 years, Welcome to Jamrock and its title track have propelled Marley into the mainstream spotlight.

His music ranges from politically charged to sweet and soulful, but his songs share the sentiments of his father's.

Damian would have made his dad proud Friday Night, drawing energy from the danceable "All Night," sung with his brother Stephen, and the hit "Welcome to Jamrock."

An incredibly energetic and engaging performer, Damian roamed the stage with his knee length dreads, unkempt beard and bony frame with a dramatic and boucing skip.

Fans were out of their seats and grooving to the music.

Damian, Stephen and Julian sang their father's classic "Could You Be Loved," and the audience's reaction proved the answer was yes.