What's more useless than a chair at a reggae concert? Several thousand chairs.
But if the seating at Constitution Hall prevented a lot of people from moving with the music last night, in no way did it diminish the capacity crowd's enthusiasm for Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh. In turn, both singers responded with performances that frequently bordered on the hypnotic.
Without compromising reggae's power, Cliff continues to broaden its appeal. Relying more on his gruffer middle range than usual, Cliff turned virtually every song into an emphatic, heartfelt expression. When he put together such tunes as the soulful ballad "Many Rivers to Cross," the life-affirming "The Harder They Come" and Bob Marley's bittersweet "No Woman, No Cry," Cliff was no less compelling on stage than he proved to be on film nearly 10 years ago.
Likewise, Tosh's set was much more consistent than his albums of late. The most outspoken of the original Wailers, Tosh served notice once again with "Ain't Gonna Give It Up" that his politics haven't been altered by the stateside success he's enjoyed. That song, along with numerous others, was delivered with the driving intensity and personal commitment that recalled Tosh's finest album, "Equal Rights."