The month long Catch a Fire Tour, an ambitious undertaking to bring together some of the best Roots Reggae artists together on one stage in multiple cities coast to coast, succeeded in being one of the most highly rated tours of the summer. Reggae fans were united with the headlining acts of Morgan Heritage, Tarrus Riley, Stephen Marley and Damian Marley each accompanied by their own band. It also introduced a next generation of upcoming artists to a broader audience including Black Am I, two of Bob Marley’s grandsons – Skip Marley and Jo Mersa Marley, as well as Jemere Morgan, a next generation Morgan completing the comprehensive line-up.
New England was fortunate to have two stops on the successful tour. After the opening dates in Philly and NYC at the end of August, it was time for the well received Boston show, the first stop in New England on the Thursday before labor day weekend. Boston is no stranger to quality Reggae music tours including its own rich history of hosting four of the original 1973 Catch a Fire Tour shows that landed Bob Marley and the Wailers on the international stage. However, it’s the first time a recent tour has included four well known Jamaican bands on a tour of their own. The Blues Hills Bank Pavilion, host to the Boston show is a wonderful large outdoor concert venue located in the Seaport District which hosts numerous concerts of all genres all summer long. While the venue’s name has changed a few times, the venue remains one of my favorite places to attend a concert and holds a special meaning to me as I first saw Damian Marley perform there nearly 10 years ago when he was on tour with Ben Harper.
Catch A Fire Tour at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion – Boston, MA 9/3/15
Catch A Fire Tour at the Maine State Pier – Portland, Maine 9/4/15
Another success factor on the Catch a Fire Tour was the ability to bring the tour to large outdoor venues in areas that traditionally do not host as many Reggae concerts; Portland, Maine being one of them. Only recently has Portland started to have more Reggae concerts and the reggae fans were certainly out in full force in appreciation of the tour, which was a great way to kick off Labor Day weekend in Maine with a full scale Reggae party. As often as I’ve covered all the acts of the Catch a Fire tour in other states and even a few countries, I’ve never seen any of them perform in Maine which made it an extra special highlight for me since I spent half of my childhood in Maine all the while attending rock concerts during my high school years. As with the Boston venue, the Maine State Pier is an another excellent place to attend a concert. The outdoor stage in the Old Port district of Portland, is situated at the end of a small pier adjacent to a ferry terminal giving passengers on the ferry a great view of the concert as well as they set sail for nearby Peak’s Island.
Fans showing the love in Portland, Maine
It’s certainly wonderful to witness Reggae history in the making. Damian Marley made history last year with the successful sold out launch of the inaugural Welcome to JamRock Reggae Cruise, bringing Jamaican Reggae and Dancehall artists together on the high seas for a journey from Miami to Jamaica. This year, the Catch a Fire tour succeeded in bringing everyone together once again – fans and artists alike, especially fitting this year since it’s been a year long celebration of events commemorating Bob Marley’s 70th birthday anniversary. I’m looking forward to see what’s next!