About this time two years ago I was in Jamaica on the hunt to find Protoje’s then-new album The 8 Year Affair. Finding a Summer show on his island home wasn’t an option because Protoje and The InDiggNation were touring Europe. I’ve watched their busy tour schedules since, waiting patiently for a chance to catch a live show.
I finally got it at Amsterdam’s Melweg last week – on the tail end of their tour of the now-new third album Ancient Future (released in March this year) – and amongst the collective’s shows at venues and reggae festivals throughout Europe including Mighty Sounds, Lakesplash, Summerjam, Sunrise Reggae & Ska, One Love and Summer Vibration.
Was I satisfied with my long-awaited live Protoje and The InDiggNation experience? Most definitely and completely. They quenched my thirst for wicked contemporary roots reggae music – and today that’s not an easy thing to do.
I love the sounds, quality, essence and musicianship levels of old – and cringe when I hear bands all over the world doing those sounds and the artists who made them an injustice by unsuccessfully trying to replicate them and creating bad, bland reggae music in the process. But I also want reggae music that sounds fresh, unique, diversified and has an edge to it.
At their Amsterdam show (like on the albums) Protoje and The InDiggNation collective delivered all those sounds I crave from both the past and present, made every part of my being smile with joy instead of cringe – and demonstrated live what an all mighty justice they’re doing for Jamaican and worldwide reggae music. My one of only three passing thoughts at the gig (great live music takes you out of your head) was “I haven’t heard live reggae music this wicked since Sly & Robbie”.
The humble and gentle Protoje himself with his unique hip hop vocal flow that gets my body moving every time, is just one part of the goodness of the live experience. The others, equally as important and talented are their sound engineer Greg Morris plus the seven core members of the InDiggNation on stage with Protoje: Peter “Kongz” Samaru (drums) – Lamont “Monty” Savory and Kevin “Zuggu” Patterson (guitars) – Paris LaMont Dennis (keys & vocoder) – Danny Bassie (bass) – Shenae Wright and Keiko Smith (background vocals).
At Melkweg the crowd got the extra-special treat of hearing the absolutely stunning live vocals of young Jamaican diva Sevana when she joined the group on stage for three songs – two from Ancient Future (‘Love Gone Cold’ & ‘Sudden Flight’) and her own first single (produced by Protoje) ‘Bit Too Shy’. Sevana’s presence took the show to new heights again.
The heavenly vocals of Zuggu in place of Ky-Mani Marley on ‘Rasta Love’ were another highlight amongst the gig’s many.
The second of those three passing thoughts was that Protoje and The InDiggNation seemed a wee bit tired. Totally expected given their relentless tour schedule – and it didn’t stop them from delivering a killer show that brought a whole lot of happiness to everyone there.
A few times during the set Protoje thanked the Amsterdam crowd for taking the time to come out and listen. My third and final thought in response was “Kind words, but seriously? Man, thank you all for bringing your music to us”.
Anyone with a thirst like mine for wickedly-diverse, fresh, unique contemporary reggae music with the qualities and essence of old, needs to find their own sublime live Protoje and the InDiggNation experience. I’ll take another one, and another, wherever and whenever I can. In the meantime we can all keep dancing to our beloved hard-copies (digital if you must) of Ancient Future, The 8 Year Affair and The 7 Year Itch.
Listen here to ‘Sudden Flight’ (featuring Sevana and Jesse Royal) and check out video footage below of Protoje and The InDiggNation performing ‘Protection’ and ‘Bubblin’ in Amsterdam (all three tracks from the new album Ancient Future, which you can buy here).