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A Night of Unique Reggae in Central Park

July 10th, 2009

Matisyahu – SummerStage – July 9, 2009

Matisyahu - SummerStage - July 9, 2009

As summers typically go, this one has been on the weak side so far in New York City. But last night’s show at SummerStage in Central Park was an early highlight in what still remains a long list of outdoor summer concerts in the Big Apple. As the last bit of sunlight pushed its way over the tops of buildings and through the Central Park foliage, opener Umphrey’s McGee finished their set with a long and wonderful cover of the Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” Their energetic jam-band sound was a perfect warm-up to the laid-back headliner.

The White Plains, N.Y., transport Matisyahu filled what felt like the whole park with his uniquely branded reggae. Spinning in circles and dancing in between verses, his joyous performance carried well into the excited crowd. There was nothing over the top about his set, but there didn’t need to be. His backing band never strayed from their task of chugging out reggae beat after reggae beat, executed well by each member. And Matisyahu never missed a step, perfectly rhyming through a set that included the hits like “Youth,” “Jerusalem,” and “King Without a Crown” that made him a household name in 2006. When the sun was long gone, he wrapped up his set, sending everyone home well aware that summer is here. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com