Buju Banton The Music Hall, London ON July 6

Ragamuffin prophet, sex symbol or charming ladies man, Buju Banton’s rule on reggae music is partly based in his ability to embody the spiritual, the carnal and the sweetheart both in song and person. All three were out in full force for Buju’s first Canadian date in four years. What started out as an exhausting wait through nearly inaudible deejays and competing noise from an adjacent club, ended up as one of Canada’s reggae highlights of the summer. When the king of reggae finally took the stage just before 2:30 a.m. he instantly transformed the restless crowd into his adoring loyal subjects. Devoting much of the first half of the set to his groundbreaking ’Til Shiloh and Inna Heights albums he handed the vocals over to the audience for "Untold Stories” and occasionally took time, preacher-style, to remind listeners of the socially conscious message underlying much of his music. At midpoint in the set Buju drove headlong into material from the newest record, Too Bad. The first of these tracks, "Me & Oonu,” a surf/dancehall blend based on "Wipeout,” had the second story hardwood floor bouncing precariously, such was the enthusiastic response from leaping fans. Ripping through barely a minute each of ruff-neck anthems such as "Waistline” and "Hey Boy,” Buju gyrated, theatrically re-enacted intercourse and, at one point during the night, let a female fan grope his upper thigh. Then, the singer/deejay levelled the vibes as he announced, "I wanna play a song for the woman dem.” Even the synthetic live band that accompanied him couldn’t put a damper on the set with their five synthesisers making up for the lack of electric guitars, horns, congos, real organs and, during intimate songs, even acoustic guitars. Buju’s five-song encore included fan-favourite "Driver A,” a song that is not only becoming the definitive version of Sly and Robbie’s Taxi riddim but is also one of reggae’s most infectious tracks to date.