The headliners, Third World, ended up opening the show last night for Toots and Maytals who, according to the emcee, were still on their way from New York. Maybe the delay of nearly two hours took the edge off the crowd, because it took the six-man Jamaican band until the end of their show to get even some of the audience at the Warner Theatre up.
Third World, all dressed in white and featuring some slick dance routines and smooth harmonies, was about as commercial and clean as reggae gets. Lead guitarist Cat Coore, played the kind of fluid melodic guitar leads you would expect from Carlos Santana or even Peter Frampton. The instrumental star was multi-keyboardist Ibo, who blended sheets of cool jazz with soul and funk riffs.
Part of the band's problem was that neither lead vocalist, Cat Coore or Bunnie Rugs, was a particularly expressive singer. On their best songs "96 in the Shade" and "Uptown River," they were able to achieve the drug-inspired atmosphere and hypnotic quality of Bob Marley.
Because of its seamless, almost over polished synthesis of black American Jamaican and African styles. Third World does live up to its name. There was more than a touch of Hollywood and Broadway too.