Ziggy Marley Opens The Sound in Good Form

The Sound had a grand opening weekend with two sold out nights of Ziggy Marley playing his father’s music.

The venue is part of a growing culture scene in North County San Diego, when coupled with the refurbished Conrad Prebys Theatre.

The Sound will likely attract bands generally headed downtown to House of Blues; both venues feature mostly standing room with a scarcity of reserved seats. The House of Blues is slightly smaller (capacity of 1500 as opposed to 1900 at The Sound). The sight lines on the floor at The Sound are good, but I have not yet checked out the seated rows behind the first row in the balcony. Befitting its name, the sound at the new venue is excellent. The build out for the latest jewel on the Del Mar Fairgrounds was reported to be $17 million.

The Belly Up, known for its eclectic and appealing calendar will take the lead in booking at The Sound, which portends good things.

Ziggy’s set list was culled from Bob’s tragically short but stunningly prolific career. The band seemed to start rather sluggishly, which was cause for initial concern.

After pedestrian takes on “Burnin’ and Lootin,” “Top Rankin’ / We and Dem” and “Them Belly Full” things perked up with “Positive Vibration.” With a songbook unrivalled in reggae, Bob Marley offers a wealth of material.

The musicians were mostly bathed in the obligatory colors of red, gold and green, with splashes of ocean blue (photos by Brad Auerbach)

The band and the audience did as instructed with “Lively Up Yourself,” which was soon followed by classics like “Roots, Rock, Reggae” and a medley of“Get Up, Stand Up / War / No More Trouble.” Ziggy occasionally strummed his guitar, but he left the solos to his able sidemen. Stand out tracks included “Is This Love” and a gripping version of “Exodus.”

Some might argue that the show really represents Ziggy as a tribute band, which, in some sense is true. But of all the Marley children as the oldest, he probably has the most legitimate claim to organizing such a tribute show. In fact, in strictly mercenary terms, one could see a strategy from his management that encouraged Ziggy to put his flag in the sand regarding such a set list; should his own career falter this is not a bad way of turning rebellion into money.

The best songs of the encore were “One Love” and “Could You Be Loved.”

Brad Auerbach has been a journalist and editor covering the media, entertainment, travel and technology scene for many years. He has written for Forbes, Time Out London, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly and early in his career won a New York State College Journalism Award.