Concert Review: Jimmy Cliff, August 18, Phoenix Concert Theatre

I don’t really like to harp on something like a performer’s age, but in the case of reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, it has to be noted – at 64 years of age, this dude’s got some moves. Seriously. The amount of energy and enthusiasm he exuded onstage was pretty much at the same level from beginning to end. He’s a fairly sharp dresser too. How many out there can really pull off what basically looked like a swanky pair of pyjamas as stagewear? Jimmy Cliff can.

And of course he’s got the songs too. Classics like “The Harder They Come” shared space with covers like “Ruby Soho” and “Wild World” and were all crowd pleasers, as were songs off his latest album Rebirth like “Afghanistan,” which showed off his political side. Another highlight was his version of “I Can See Clearly Now,” one of many singalongs that happened. The biggest surprise for me though was hearing him do “Hakuna Matata.” I guess he’s a Lion King fan. During that song and a few others, Cliff was joined onstage by a young girl who danced and occasionally sang when prompted. Another kid came out onstage a few times too. Not sure who they were (maybe his grandkids?) but they certainly didn’t seem shy.

Overall, i was totally impressed by Jimmy Cliff. Everything from his dance moves to the way he sort of reenacted scenes from his clasic film, The Harder They Come before performing it’s title track to the numerous encores was endearing and entertaining. On the walk home after the show, I chatted with a longtime fan who had seen the man perform several times over the years, including a show in the ’80s where Cliff shared a stage with Peter Tosh. “You know with Jimmy Cliff you’re going to get a good show. That’s the last thing you need to worry about,” he said. He speaks the truth.

Posted on by Paul in Concerts