311 make it up to Boston fans

A review of 311, Ziggy Marley at the Comcast Center on June 29, 2009

, Managing Editor

After a power outage silenced 311 last week, the rockers returned to the Comcast Center on Monday night to make amends with their fanbase. It was clear that the anticipation had soared over the five days for the fans who were amped up all evening and showered the band with love.

311 is on their summer "Unity" tour to support a brand new album, Uplifter. The band heavily featured the new tunes but one wouldn’t even know it with the way the crowd received the new material. It was like the band had been playing the songs for years. While the show wasn’t exactly uplifting in a spiritual sense, in a physical sense it surely was as fans were jumping around for most of the evening.

Early in the set vocalist Nick Hexum thanked the fans for coming back and expressed discouragement that they “couldn’t express how bummed we were about not being able to play”. The band didn’t dwell on the unfortunate incident any further and instead put it behind them going full speed ahead with a mix of greatest hits and new material.

As the crowd chanted their name the band took the stage and kick-started the evening with new track “Never Ending Summer”. Hexum took to the stage looking like he should be fronting a boy band with his faux hawk and all white attire, while his counterpart S.A. Martinez was like an object in space; once he started moving he never stopped. When not DJing, Martinez rocked around the stage like a ska-loving weeble but unfortunately the blaring guitar parts drowned many of his vocals out. Nevertheless, it wasn’t enough to take away the enjoyment of loud, funky classics like “All Mixed Up” and “Come Original”.

New track “Daisy Cutter” received the best reaction of anything off of Uplifter. With it’s simple, catchy chorus the crowd took to it quite easily and had the fans frantically jumping in their seats. A calm finally arrived in the form of “Amber” but the mellow groove didn’t stop some fans in the pit from crowd surfing while the rest of the fans belted out the “whoa!” line in the chorus. The calm didn’t last long as the highlight of the night followed as the band began “Applied Science”. About a minute into the song drummer Chad Sexton was left alone to take a solo, which he extended longer than the recorded version, using every piece of his sizeable kit. Minutes later, the rest of the band joined in on the fun, delivering an all-out percussive assault that impressively complimented Sexton’s skills.

In another rare calm moment “Beyond the Gray Sky” was dedicated to Michael Jackson as fans were asked to hold their lighters up. Yet, the place was rockin’ again shortly as “Freak Out” proved to be appropriately titled as the fans did exactly that. Two new tracks, “Hey You”, which Hexum said was about “how music saved our lives”, and the heavy riffing “India Ink” preceded a bass solo from Aaron “P-Nut” Willis that showed some great technical ability but still lost the crowd’s attention with it’s length. The solo led into the slap bass-driven “What Was I Thinking” before set closer “Creatures (For A While)” had the crowd begging for an encore.

The encore lacked the excitement of “Creatures” starting with “Omaha Stylee” and a mashup of “Do You& Right”, “Don’t Stay Home” and “Hive” but the band was able to end on a high note with “Down”, which they dedicated to all the “old-school 311 fans”.

The fans excitement throughout the night displayed that the show’s postponement only added fuel to their fire. The pit was especially lively with several ejections and injuries thanks to the lowest form of human behavior: moshing. But what else would one expect when the meathead quotient in the attendance is so high? Although the show was fun, it seemed as if some people were still out in the parking lot when Ziggy Marley was talking about love.

Speaking of Ziggy, he performed a brilliant set in front of a much smaller crowd than he deserved. Those who came in early got to enjoy a classic reggae sound as Marley mixed in some of his iconic father’s hits with his own work. He expressed his love for Africa with “Still the Storms” and Bob’s “Africa Unite” before throwing in some faster paced, poppier songs like “Got to Be True to Myself” and “Black Cat” that got people out of their seats.

After “Jammin’” drew a huge reaction Ziggy left the crowd in good spirits with “Is This Love?” and “Love Is My Religion”. He beautifully ended his unfortunately short set saying, “What I really want to say is…Love!”.

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