Eddy Grant's bid to become the biggest Caribbean star ever in America got a big boost with a most convincing show at the Wax Museum last night. The singer-songwriter from Guiana showed off a nine-person band as unified as it was supple, a seemingly bottomless well of memorable songs, personable voice and stage presence that had the sell-out crowd chanting and dancing.
Astutely mixing Caribbean reggae, British rock, African polyrhythms, American soul and Latin sambas, Grant forged his own distinct, potent sound. In contrast to other musicians seeking a similar international hybrid, Grant has an unflinching political and personal vision that causes him to choose the toughest elements of each genre rather than the most malleable.
Wearing chest-length dreadlocks and black leather pants, Grant played a biting rock guitar solo over rolling African rhythms to back up the romantic challenge of "Say I Love You." He sang soft soul scat syllables over a reggae bass line for his eulogy to a political martyr, "Another Revolutionary." He acknowledged an obvious debt when he did "War Party," which sounded unmistakably like Bob Marley. Grant dug back to 1968 for his first hit, the catchy rocker "Baby, Come Back," and used a synthesizer with telling effects on this year's political dance hit "Electric Avenue," which cracked the American top five.