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Shinehead Electrifies ‘Reggae Sunsplash’ Concert

If the Greek was an indoor theater, Shinehead’s opening reggae-rap-rock salvo “Unity” would have torn the roof off at Saturday’s “Reggae Sunsplash” concert. The lanky New Yorker electrified the crowd’s spirit of amiable anarchy by strolling through the audience (unescorted by security guards) during a sparkling set that again confirmed his enormous potential.

Marcia Griffiths unintentionally built on Shinehead’s energy when she invited audience members on stage to demonstrate the “electric slide” dance to her 1989 hit “Electric Boogie.” Bad move--the stage was instantly inundated with fans, but what could have been a momentum-breaking debacle turned positive when everyone maintained his cool while clearing the stage. Griffiths then kept the fire stoked with a triumphant medley of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and “Buffalo Soldiers.”

Headliner Burning Spear represented reggae’s old school, blending blues-rock lead guitar, horn punctuations and bass-heavy grooves around his inimitably coarse, rich vocals. His trance-dance moves seemed more inspired by some private muse than show-biz convention, and just when the hypnotic grooves bordered on deadening, Spear’s nine-piece band exploded into some thunderous dub excursions.

Also performing were smooth singer Freddie McGregor, energetic dance-hall diva Shelly Thunder and U-Roy. “Reggae Sunsplash” hits San Diego’s Open Air Theatre Thursday, Irvine Meadows on Saturday.

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