Toots and the Maytals at the Minnesota Zoo, 7/9/11


Toots and the Maytals July 9, 2011 Minnesota Zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater

Opening with "Pressure Drop" and closing just about an hour later with "54-46 (That's My Number)," Toots and the Maytals socked a brief but energetic performance to the intimate, family-friendly crowd gathered in the Saturday night heat at the Minnesota Zoo's Weesner Family Amphitheater.


After a laid-back opening performance by Madison's Natty Nation, Toots Hibbert's daughter Leba sang a couple songs with the backing of the Maytals. She has just released her first solo album, entitled Intoxicated, and it's clear she's inherited her father's powerful voice. Toots then joined her and the rest of the band onstage for a set that had the audience on its feet, swaying and singing along 'til the very end.

It's no surprise Rolling Stone Magazine has called Hibbert one of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time; his voice, which has earned him apt comparisons to Otis Redding, is as strong as ever, resonating in a completely effortless sound, loud and clear no matter where his mic ends up in position to his face as he dances and shuffles in place, white loafers accenting his all-black attire. At 65, he's still got the kind of voice that has such a natural phrasing, it seems the man never has to take a breath as he sings.

It's also no surprise Hibbert's roots are in gospel, where he first found his voice before his important work fusing reggae and ska with blues and soul. At no moment did he lose his audience, riling the crowd, folks waving their hands in the air in testament to the fact that reggae got soul, and at one point even shaking hands with members of the audience to the chorus of "Wanna know who you are" during the song, "You Know."

Critic's bias: Still smarting a bit from the 1990s pop revival of third-wave ska. Random notebook dump: This is the intimate spot where they do the bird shows. Imagine that spot where as a kid your mom took you to see the World of Birds during summer break - now you're as close to Mickey Dolenz or Toots Hibbert or Wanda Jackson as you once were to the blue-throated Macaw. The crowd: Pretty even mix of hardcore fans, and folks who just come to these things, often with their kids in tow. Overheard in the crowd: I wish they'd pass that this way. Set List: Pressure Drop/Louie Louie/Never Get Weary/Reggae Got Soul/Bam Bam/Funky Kingston/Take Me Home, Country Roads/You Know/Monkey Man Encore: Broadway Jungle/54-46 (That's My Number)