“In the springtime…singing songs of freedom”
With a near capacity crowd in front of the small stage planted at the end of the dance floor Cardiff reggae singer Aleighcia Scott stepped up for a quick PA to ease the transition from DJ Big Crumb to the live show.
Veteran Maxi opened with some of his early hits, dating back to his days as part of the seminal Saxon Sound, including appropriately for the Sunday, March 1 show, In the Springtime and soon the first of his signature songs, Some Guys.
Having honed his skills in the take no prisoners world of the dancehall Maxi never forgot to sing to his left and right as well as up above and behind as he was surrounded on all sides, with a large section of the crowd perched on the circular balcony.
He took audience participation to a high with Wild World, acting as conductor for the audience who carried the vocals for his version of the Cat Stephens original, another of the songs that typifies Maxi’s blend of reggae, r’n’b, pop sensibilities and eclectic choice of covers.
But his reggae pedigree has always remained and his new material is undiluted one drop. Having fired off his standards, all contained on his 1991 Best of Me collection, Maxi brought it bang up to date with Easy to Love, the single from which the tour has taken its name.
Other new songs, which retain Maxi’s soulful approach, included Holiday, Loving You is Easy and If I Gave My Heart to You, before Maxi brought it back to his roots as the band led an 80s dancehall routine.
DJ Beniton joined Maxi on stage, taking the part of Shabba Ranks for another of Maxi’s early 90s top 40 hits, Housecall.
Close to You, the record which made Maxi only the second UK reggae act, after UB40, to score a US Billboard number one, was followed by some tough recent dancehall riddims.
Maxi closed an uninterrupted two hours and 10 minutes on stage with a version of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song and a medley of hits including the Michael Jackson classic Billie Jean, Chic’s Good Times and Pharrell’s Happy for a celebration to close his set and tour, having mixed hits from the past 30 years with easy to love new material.