Date: Sunday, March 11th, 2012
Line up: SOJA, Gentleman, Anuhea
Location: House of Blues. San Diego, CA
House of Blues San Diego has been and remains one of my favorite venues to see live music. There is a lot of space, vantage points, and the unique decor adds a stylish flare to the overall experience.
The weekend of music that Southern CA experienced over the past several days was dizzying. From Iration to The Green, to Seedless to Passafire, and many, many more there were options every way you turned. From Los Angeles, South, there was a guarantee you could find a quality reggae show of your choice. Catching The Green & Passafire on Friday night in Solana Beach, established excitement for the sold out House of Blues San Diego show featuring Anuhea, Gentleman and SOJA.
The night was marking the end of SOJA’s tour with Gentleman and Anuhea in a sentimental, and extremely memorable set by all musicians. Anuhea, promoting her new album “For Love” which released on iTunes on Valentine’s Day gave all her love to the crowd during her half hour set.
Touring with SOJA and Gentleman broadened her listening abilities, and exposed her to a wide variety of fans, covering multiple states. Her sweet voice, love songs, and Hawaiian influence displays her hard work, extreme talent, and keeps all of us hopeful for what is to come in her future.
Gentleman’s set was action packed, heart felt, interactive, and everything a fan could desire. Gentlemans band, Evolution, and his two beautiful back up vocalists, one of which includes his wife, Tamika, sealed the reggae experience for all. In a rare CA appearance, Gentleman took time to address the audience about his lyrics, allowing his back up vocalists to shine. Gentleman’s set established a personal love for his music as displayed when he performed an acoustic version of his track “It No Pretty”. He slowly poured into the song with a heartfelt introduction, before merging into full instrumentals.
Gentleman’s songs display his deep belief and reference for God while enabling all listeners to appreciate his music with no restraints. Two surprise visits from Jacob Hemphill of SOJA with Gentleman had the audience skankin’ while the 2 collaborated on stage. Gentleman ended his set in fashion by physically jumping off the stage and walking through the crowd as he sang his last song.
An extended break between sets from Gentleman to SOJA gave time to head backstage, catch up with Anuhea and her management, as well as SOJA and members from Gentleman. Immediately recognizing the charisma, positivity, and down to earth aspect of all included, made the music that much better. After Gentleman finished his set about 11:30pm he took off for a departing flight to New York, but not before a group picture of the entire tour’s crew as Jacob Hemphill got everyone together for pictures taken by The Pier’s photographer, David Norris. It was a bittersweet moment, the tour was ending, but the future holds much excitement.
House of Blues San Diego has been and remains one of my favorite venues to see live music. There is a lot of space, vantage points, and the unique decor adds a stylish flare to the overall experience. By the time SOJA’s set began, I was just as excited as every screaming fan patiently waiting to see the dreadlocked band hit the stage. It was just one dayd before they were set to make their appearance on the Jay Leno show to air Monday March 12th on NBC.
Beginning their set with words of the tour, music and future, SOJA kicked off the night with their single “Tell Me”, transitioning to Bobby Lee’s vocals with “Be Aware” and continuing on with songs from their new album “Strength to Survive” to “Born in Babylon” to “Get Wise”.
SOJA’s entire set was enamoring from the start to finish. Noting Hemphill’s focused persona and eye contact, his interaction with all band members displayed a small view into how and why SOJA is becoming so acclaimed on a broader scale. Despite Bobby Lee’s vocals being absent on SOJA’s new album, he graced the audience with his deep, unique vocals, and power kicks he rips while simultaneously “slappin’ da bass”.
The saxophone solos, and drumming talent from Byrd held the set together tight up until the encore song “Sorry”. Halfway through SOJA’s set, Anuhea came on stage and joined Hemphill in their track “You and Me” as Anuhea sat in for Chris Boomer. Another surprise of the night was San Diego Charger wide-receiver, Vincent Jackson, rocking out to SOJA from the second floor, and making a guest appearance at the end of their set, showing off his SOJA t-shirt. Hemphill exclaimed that he had one wish for Jackson, much to the dismay of San Diego Natives and that was to “move to the Redskins”.
Having seen SOJA for the past three years consecutively, this performance displayed the talent and growth that the entire band has consistently been working for over the past decade. To see SOJA in this position brings curiosity and excitement for what is in store in SOJA’s musical career. As Hemphill states in SOJA’s new track, “I am not done yet”, there is no foreseen or remotely close sight of this band ending their reign any time in the near future. From collaborations with varying artists, to extended tour dates, to new albums, lyrics, and messages from this sincere living U.S reggae band, The Pier is fortunate to be involved with musicians that provide phenomenal shows and legendary music.
Article By: Allie Gordon
Photo By: Davis Norris
Here’s a video of SOJA interacting with Former San Diego Chargers Wide Receiver Vincent Jackson, the night of the show. 2 days later Vincent Jackson signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 55M. Watch as Jacob Hemphill tries to convince him to go to the Washington Redskins!
MORE PHOTO’s FROM THE NIGHT….First & last picture includes Vincent Jackson of San Diego Chargers!