Macka B ‘Health is Wealth’ Tour @ Muziekgieterij, Maastricht
We’ve been watching Macka B for a very long time, actually since his appearance at the 1989 edition of Belgium’s annual Reggae Geel Festival. So it’s obvious that we are very familiar with Macka B and we were never disappointed. Attending a Macka B show always makes you feel uplifted. The last time we saw Macka B was at the Muziekgieterij in Maastricht, the Netherlands on Saturday December 20th 2014. Almost exactly three years later the powerful long serving roots reggae master Macka B and his regular backing band named the Roots Ragga Band, returned to Maastricht for a show as part of their Health Is Wealth Tour, actually also their last gig in 2017.
After the warming up with a selection of new and old tunes spun by the Reggae Vibes Crew, the Roots Ragga Band hit the stage and opened up with a nice instrumental riddim selection to get the by now well-filled venue in the mood for some real conscious roots reggae music from UK’s legendary mic chanter Macka B, who always smashes it. Macka B started off with “Here Come The Rasta Man”, a perfect choice to open the show and one that instantly roused the crowd into a roots reggae frenzy. As usual Macka B’s stage presence was fantastic as was not only displayed during the opening song, but also during the rest of his show.
The 4 piece band, exceptionally tight players and well trained professionals who hype up the artist’s presence, cracked on with “Rasta Rise Again” across a version of the classic “Swing Easy” riddim, the wonderful great uplifting tune “Step Up” and “Ganja” on Max Romeo’s “Chase The Devil” riddim. Macka B loves to engage the crowd and thus he utilized the lyrics of the original song to make the people sing out. After “Ganja” he continued with “Natural Herb”, with Macka B doing snippets of the reggae Ganja music (“Kaya”, “Under Mi Sensi”, “Under Mi Sleng Teng”, “Legalize It”, “Gimme The Weed”, “Stalk Of Sensimilla”) and “(More Than A) Sex Machine”, respecting the herbs and the women in the house.
One of the highlights was his Peckings produced hit song, in which Macka B states that it’s not good to glorify violence in your music and that peace and love is the best message for a happier world. The crowd responded to this well and a nice feeling was created when Macka B joked “People carry around their 45 pistol, do you want to see my 45?” …he pulled out a 45 rpm vinyl and showed it to the crowd saying ‘the younger people probably think it’s a frisbee’. And then the band kicked into “Never Played A 45” (across a looped sample from Toots & the Maytals “54-46”), creating a fantastic atmosphere which was maintained when Macka B paid tribute to Marley with his own tune “Everybody Loves Bob Marley”. It was followed by “I Don’t Like Reggae”, a collaboration he did with Panache Culture in 1991 for Maastricht-based RUNNetherlands. And, of course, he also performed songs from the “Health Is Wealth” album such as “Wha Me Eat” and the great “Gangster”.
With “Warrior Style” across the heavyweight “Kunta Kinte” riddim, Macka B returned to his work with Mad Professor. A nice part of this true masterpiece was when he ‘clashed’ with drummer Sticky Steppers to see who’s faster… Macka B doing Speed Rap (which as he explained was very popular in the 1980s) or the drummer’s fast drumming. He continued with “Roots Ragga”, explaining that Roots music is not dead. This picked up the crowd even more and the energy generated was smashing. Macka B then left the stage.
When he returned he told about going viral with ‘Medical Mondays’ and ‘Wha Me Eat Wednesdays’ and treated the people to one of his most successful songs in recent times “Cucumber” (pronounced Cucumba in Jamaica), once again showing that he really likes to connect with his audience. Macka B rounded off his show with two encores. First, after telling a little story in his inimitable humorous style, he gave the enthousiastic and excited crowd “Medical Marijuana Card”. And then, finally, there was the title song of his latest album (and also of the tour he’s doing), “Health And Wealth”.
Macka B and his band fully lived up to expectations as they treated the people to an energetic, positive and superb roots reggae performance, which is good for the heart, mind & soul.