IKA as Bob Marley

The King of Reggae

The man - The Music

Birmingham Rep


The King of Reggae -The man - the music is a production by the Rush Theatre Company celebrating the life and music of Bob Marley. It features live onstage musicians, the JA Reggae Band, who have played alongside the likes of Edwin Star, Jimmy Cliff, Aswad, and Steel Pulse.

Written and narrated by Jannette Barrett, aka Lyricist B, this new production follows a narrated concert format .

Marley has the definitive canon of reggae music, a canon which has transcended its origins like no other Reggae artist. No-one has bettered songs in the form since. Get Up Stand Up has evolved into one of the great protest songs, I shot the sheriff is a defining outlaw lament made famous by Eric Clapton, No Woman No Cry has become a classic love song with its lilting, intro movingly and faithfully recreated played by Mathew Graham.

I was fortunate enough to see Bob play at the Rainbow Theatre in London in 1977, I had no idea that his songs and impact would be around 45 years later. Tonight did not simply capture the sound of

We travel on a journey from a Trenchtown to worldwide Rastafari Icon, taking in his personal, spiritual and political life . Its style is self effacing, acknowledging the role of backing band the Wailers, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh , Island Records’ Chris Blackwell, Jimmy Cliff and Desmond Decker on his road to fame.  

raggae trio

His prodigious love life, and prolific resulting offspring, are warmly and gently remembered by Lyricist B on a back screen which is skillfully used for atmospheric effect throughout an evening which features over 20 of his songs with a running time in excess of two and a half hours. We are reminded of how much great material he recorded during a recording career of only under a decade cut short by his premature death, of cancer in May 1981 in Florida USA.

The fourteen piece band of musicians were superb with lead singer IKA taking on the role of Bob . A brass section (Adrian Gibson, Trumpet, Anne Tinsley, Saxophone) and fabulous backing singers contributed to the signature sound with which we are all so familiar courtesy of musical Director Reedbass. It was a sound which drew the audience on to their feet from early on until the tumultuous finale of Three Little Birds and One Love.

It was a wonderful show played to a multicultural audience, some of whom, by dint of their age, had clearly been devotees from the beginning. I had forgotten many of the songs, but was delighted to be reminded of them, and was surprised by how immediate, and relevant they all were. Songs from the past, to be enjoyed in the present which will endure into the future - the show runs to 24-09-22.

Gary Longden


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