For the reggae massive worldwide the month of February undoubtedly is a very special month as it was on 6th February 1945 that the undisputed "King of Reggae" Robert Nesta Marley was born in Nine Miles (near St. Ann), Jamaica. Since his untimely death on 11th May 1981 in Miami, Florida, many reggae magazines have issued special Bob Marley editions once a year and there have been a growing amount of events to celebrate Bob's birthday. This year one of those tribute events took place in Geel, Belgium, a small town well known among many European reggae fans for its annual open air reggae festival.

On Friday 9th February 2001 Cultural Centre De Werft in association with the promoters of Reggae Geel presented "Trenchtown Experience Live", a live tribute to the honourable sir Robert Nesta Marley bringing on stage UK roots singers Aqua Livi and Levi Roots alongside Perry's son Omar Perry with his own Sound System as well as host and MC for the evening Naptali. "Trenchtown Experience Live" - named after a song of Marley and also the part of Kingston where Marley grew up - is a musical project from Aqua Livi and Levi Roots intending to bring a respectful and heartfelt ode to Bob Marley. Of course, the main intention of this reggae show is to celebrate the birthday of this reggae ambassador and Jamaica's most famous reggae artist, but besides that the artists and musicians involved intend to bring a conscious party to free the people's mind and soul. Omar Perry, Aqua Livi and Levi Roots, all three artists have some affinity with Bob Marley and his music.

Aqua Livi is a fine vocalist with a warm and accomplished vocal style, a true roots singer in his own right who stays far from the hyped and in fashion reggae music. He rather sticks to traditional roots reggae, bringing the message of justice and hope to the people very much in the same way Bob Marley used to do.
Omar Pery is the son of the legendary artist/producer Lee "Scratch" Perry whose production work was instrumental for the career and success of Bob Marley. Lee Perry recorded many original versions with the Wailers which later formed the core of the music which caused the worldwide breakthrough of Bob Marley & The Wailers.
Levi Roots is a U.K. based roots singer who combines seventies roots sensibilities with contemporary technology. Among many roots fans he is well known for his incisive lyrics which are delivered in an impassioned style. He performed at the Reggae Festival in Geel for two consecutive years and his "Unplugged Set" in 1999 is still regarded as one of best performances in the festival's history.

When we entered the venue at approx. 10pm Omar Perry had just finished the warm-up round and MC Naptali was already on stage to announce the next part of the "Trenchtown Experience" show.

The members of the Righteous Tribute Band took the stage and opened with an extended instrumental version of Bob Marley's "Natural Mystic", which incorporated some dubby parts and a nice melodica part from the keyboard player. Then Reading's Aqua Livi was introduced to the audience and together with the Righteous Tribute Band he played an entertaining version of Dave Brubek's "Take Five", among long-time reggae followers known as Val Bennett's wicked "The Russians Are Coming". After these two instrumental tunes Aqua Livi performed several tunes from his latest album entitled "He's My Guide" including "Roots, Roots, Roots", the title track "He's My Guide", "Abba Father" and the wonderful "Where Is Life".

Aqua Livi

When Aqua Livi left the stage it was obvious the audience were eagerly awaiting the next artist... Levi Roots. He started his set with the title track of his critical acclaimed album "Free Your Mind", which was released in 1999. The song was not only well performed but also got an exciting dubwise treatment. The next tune Levi Roots performed, the awesome "Babylon Red Eye", can be found on his forthcoming album. Then it was time to pay tribute to the honourable Robert Nesta Marley by delivering a truly moving version of "Small Axe". More conscious vibes were brought through the tunes "Jahoviah" and "Jah Will Never Let You Down", the latter being a song that will also to appear on his forthcoming album. When Levi Roots subsequently said goodbye to his audience and also the musicians left the stage it seemed the show had come to an early end.

Levi Roots

However, after a long delay due to a misunderstanding the Righteous Tribute Band accompanied by Aqua Livi returned on stage and continued with the next part of "Trenchtown Experience Live" which consisted of performing Bob Marley songs. The audience was treated to such songs as "Trenchtown Rock", "Lively Up Yourself", "Stir It Up", "Three Little Birds", "Jamming", "Wait In Vain", "No Woman, No Cry", "Exodus" and "I Shot The Sheriff". Also Levi Roots returned on stage once again and performed "Get Up Stand Up" alongside Aqua Livi.

Levi Roots and Aqua Livi performing "Get Up Stand Up"

Despite the long delay during the show and the rather small crowd that had found its way to this concert it was truly an entertaining "Trenchtown Experience".
Text : Teacher & Mr. T  Photos : Teacher

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