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SXSW Showcase Reviews

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, March 16, 2012, Music

Jimmy Cliff

The Main, Wednesday, March 14

Beyond a certain global superstar with the surname Marley, no other Jamaican artist is more responsible for exporting reggae to the world than Jimmy Cliff. Spearheading the 1972 soundtrack to the film he starred in, The Harder They Come, the now 63-year-old singer put Jamaican music on the mainstream pop-culture map. That proved a proper starting place for an all-acoustic set of greatest hits beginning with "You Can Get It if You Really Want." With Cliff backed only by a drummer and guitar accompaniment, the stripped-down set was a marked contrast to his synth-heavy 2010 Austin City Limits television performance with a ninepiece band and backup singers. This was certainly a case of less being more with little to interfere with Cliff's still-shining voice and the perfect melodies of early hit "Wonderful World, Beautiful People" and "Sitting in Limbo." Bob Dylan's favorite protest song, "Viet Nam," was updated to call for an end to the war in Afghanistan, while "I Can See Clearly Now" and "The Harder They Come" proved the most boisterous sing-alongs of the night. An impassioned take on "Many Rivers To Cross" prepped closer "One More," which left the capacity crowd chanting the chorus long after the legend had left the stage.

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