Hollywood Bowl Fans Feel Irie as The Great Burning Spear Makes His Final California Appearance

Burning Spear - Photo courtesy Marco Swk
Burning Spear - Photo courtesy Marco Swk
Burning Spear - Photo by Craig Hammons
Burning Spear – Photo by Craig Hammons


Jah cool wind blew peace and harmony over the Hollywood Bowl a beautiful summer evening last week as the sounds of reggae music would soon be soothing our souls.  Everyone was feeling Irie and ready to groove.

We all knew this would be a special evening as Burning Spear announced this would be his final concert in California.  Fans, family and friends came from all over the world to be part of the Burning Spear Experience.

KCRW’s Jeremy Sole opened the night by bringing out the Etana the Jamaican princess of reggae.  She and her roots reggae band covered some of her well known tracks like “Roots” and “Blessing,” before getting into her album “The Strong One” and some tracks from her newest album “I Rise.”   Some of the stand out tracks she performed were “Don’t Forget” and “Jah Chariot.”  She kept the positive energy flowing by covering Bob Marley’s classic One Drop” and even covered the Beatles “Don’t Let Me Down.”  At the end of her set she asked the audience if we were afraid and ended her set with “I Am Not Afraid.”   She told us all to “Do not walk with fear, with all that is going on in the world, find the strength to say no, I am not afraid.”

Ky-Mani Marley - Photo by Craig Hammons
Ky-Mani Marley – Photo by Craig Hammons

Next up was Bob’s son Ky-Mani Marley who kicked things off with his dad’s song “Concrete Jungle”.  The crowd was now up and feeling inspired by this music that magically moves them.  Ky-Mani asked “Are you feeling Irie” (the state of feeling great)?  Everyone was feeling the positive vibes.

He then played a couple new tracks called “Love Over All” and “Hey” which showed what a good song writer he is.

Ky-Mani brought out his friend Sammy Wilk to sing “Light Up” which didn’t take long for a smoky haze to form over the Bowl.   He kept the set fast and lively as he said he wanted to get in a few songs we all loved and ended his set with “Is This Love” and “Redemption Song”.  Every little thing was alright.   He thanked the crowd for this beautiful evening in one of his favorite places.  Rastafari!

As darkness fell over the Hollywood Bowl the stage was lit up bright waiting for the Jamaican roots reggae singer, conga player, Rastafarian and cultural icon Burning Spear.  The We Are One Band came on and played some instrumentals before Burning Spear strolled on stage to thunderous applause and much respect and appreciation.  Tonight was the last chance to see Spear and he would not disappoint his reggae brothers and sisters.

Spear said: “It’s going to be my last show in California and it’s time for “I MAN” to stand down from the stage as I want to say goodbye to my fans.”

Burning Spear - Photo courtesy Marco Swk
Burning Spear – Photo courtesy Marco Swk

Spear is now 71 years old but has got the energy of a young lion.  Spear is just one cool cat.  He was wearing ripped jeans and a Rasta vest and urging the people to sing along.  “Talk to me people,” he would say and we all would respond with cheers of happiness.   The crowd was loving his positive and uplifting songs of love, peace and unity.  Spear told us that we are free and we are going to rock the Hollywood Bowl tonight and that is what we did.

Spear tore thru his set dancing and playing his congas like he was a young Jamaican lad all over again.

He played “Jah No Dead” reassuring the crowd that all is not lost, stay strong and stand tall.  Spear then reminded the crowd that the Spear has been burning since 1969 until now.  He then ran thru some upbeat versions of “Red, Green and Gold” and “Tumble Down” before slowly walking off stage left.  The entire Hollywood Bowl was on their feet screaming for more.  Then Spear and his band came back out and said “Shout it if you want to hear more original reggae music.”    He then went into a slow emotional version of “Purple Rain.”  We all sang along with Burning Spear as he saluted Prince because he always stood up for what he believed in.

The evening ended with a song of truth called “Slavery Days” and then “Holy Foundation.”  Spear stretched arms out to the audience as if he was try hug each of us.  He said “It’s my last performance in California, I know you will always remember Burning Spear and keep his music alive.”  Many happy memories were made tonight as we all were spell bound by the love and unity we all experienced tonight.  Keep the Spear burning.  One love.