International stars Keyshia Cole and Akon both sparkled but so did local stars Queen Ifrica and Jah Cure, as Friday’s International Night One at Reggae Sumfest ’08 saw several fine performances for the fans at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre in Montego Bay.
Akon’s set was made ultra-exciting by him leaving the stage, climbing over the various security fences between the press and VIP area to mix and mingle with patrons, while the soothing Keyshia Cole was quite potent, reeling of numerous hits in her short but powerful set.
Cole, whose performance was spiced up by her energetic dancers – male and females, immediately connected with the fans as she opened to generous applause with songs such as Should I Let You Go, She Did, I Am Just Like You, I Changed My Mind and Heaven Sent.
With the crowd on her side and reacting to each new song with increased energy, the petite-looking Cole, clad in a white shorts suit, went into overdrive as she lifted the tempo with classy delivery of I Remember, Love, Last Night and Let It Go, which she made famous with Missy Elliott.
Akon, who performed on tracks, initially struggled to connect with the facts as he started with Skakedown, Gun Shot, My Story, Ghetto and I am a Survivor. The performance got a lift when firstly Tami Chynn joined him for I’m Frozen; and then Calling All Official worked a well-received combination with him.
With the crowd warming to him, Akon was powerful on Dangerous, In love With A Stripper and the controversial Nobody Wanna See Us Together, during which time he strip off his shirt and tossed it in the crowd and drew ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhhs’ when he pretended as if he was removing his pants.
However, the real excitement started when Akon left the main stage and began climbing over fences, people and equipment as he went into the heart of the crowd, where the fans were all over him, creating a nightmare for his security people.
Queen Ifrica was simply royal as she dished out a fluent performance. Starting out with Conquering Lion, the former Montego Bay resident was soon all the rage as she belted out Rub, Vibes On The Dance Floor, Randy, Dancehall Circles, Sensemillia and the potent Below The Waist.
After roundly endorsing Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s recent “no gays in my Cabinet” BBC statement, Queen Ifrika all but brought the house down with her latest song, No Fish Inna Mi Ital Dish. She was then joined onstage by promising Trinidad and Tobago singer Choc’late Allen, who combined well with her in delivering the song Friend.
Queen Ifrika ended her splendid set in fine style, adding a neat touch to her controversial Daddy Don’t Touch Me There, by first delivering the song in English and then adding a nice Spanish version.
Jah Cure’s much-awaited homecoming – his first appearance in Montego Bay in eight years, was not brilliant but was good enough to make the ‘longing for’ among the fans quite a worthwhile, if not exciting, experience.
Looking very much like a star in his dapper white outfit, the singer started out with Longing For and then gracefully glided through songs such as I Know Jah Jah Bless Me, Zion Way, Good Morning Jah Jah and Divide and Rule as he sought to connect with the fans.
A cure for the crowd
While the energy from the crowd was minimal at times, Jah Cure kept plugging on as he danced and sang his way through hits such as Reflection, Love Is The Answer and Sticky Out Deh, which collectively earned him the encore he clearly was putting in the energy to earn.
Among the other great acts were the likes of LUST, Terry Linen and Lutan Fyah. It was all magic, especially for LUST as the combined vocal power of Singing Melody, Thriller U, Tony Curtis and Lukie D lifted some patrons to cloud nine on songs like Say What, Should I, Missing You like Crazy, among a string of hits.
Terry Linen was all energy and charisma as he reeled off, Storm is over now, No time to linger and a classy medley from Garnet Silk’s catalogue. Lutan Fyah also rose to the occasion in a big way, holding his own with, St Jago De La Vega, Caa Believe I, Blood Stain and Save The Juvenile.
Courtney John, who performed midway the line-up created a stir with the female fans with both his stage mannerism as well as his vocal styling while Richie Spice, who closed the show, managed to pull some late energy from the crowd, rocking solidly with Gideon Boot, Blood Again, Earth A Run Red and his latest hit, De Plane Land.