When Paula-Ann Porter announced the start of The Gleaner-sponsored ‘Welcome to Jamrock’ at the Constant Spring football field on Friday, it was a minute before the slated 9:00 p.m.
When Damian ‘Jr. Gong’ Marley said goodbye, after his brother Stephen had delivered Could You Be Loved and he had invited “Simone inna me love zone”, it was two minutes before the slated 2:00 a.m. end.
The audience, most of which was packed into the vast VIP section, had not had enough after 90 Marley minutes. Even as the band was packing up, most stood firmly in place as Porter marshalled the chant ‘we want more’. “Officers, no disrespect. We a go do two more tune. A Christmas,” Jr. Gong said.
Then parts of Road To Zion and Welcome to Jamrock, hit home hard.
It was the end of a well- organised, high-quality event which had built momentum from shorter stints by the earlier performers, Javaughn singing of Peer Pressure and taking over instruments from members of C Sharp band to show his skills on keyboards, drums (singing “do rocksteady” to cheers at the same time) and bass guitar.
Cellist Stephen ‘Cat’ Core accompanies Jr. Gong on the song ‘There for You’.
Etana stepped out in black to the first line of Wrong Address and the audience swayed along to her declaration of Warrior Love. Eyes closed and standing front and centre, Etana was melodiously defiant as she sang “I am not afraid, if dem a come, mek dem come”. Saying that she had something special and a little bit different for the audience, she sat for part of her examination of the news, dancers holding up large protest signs.
The lively Roots moved the audience.
Swam King on Gully Bank sound system came before cheers for Rootz Underground began high-energy, extended songs, accentuated by the skanking frenzy of the lead singer and electrifying guitars.
Their observation that “time is an illusion” fused into Victims of the System, three members coming front and centre and high-stepping in time to a dancehall- style mix as they sang in unison. They closed with a song for those living on the streets, wondering “how much longer will we waste away on the side of the road”.
Screaming for more
Proud grandma Cedella Booker (centre) was there to enjoy the show. – Photos by Peta-Gaye Clachar/Staff Photographer
Tarrus Riley walked out to screams, singing “the man who thinks he’s larger than life”, moving easily onstage as he warned of the Friend Enemy and Beware, which got the first restart as he said “warm and easy”. And when he changed the song’s lyrics to “put a fia pon de man dem inna belly skin” the hands and voices went up. Lion Paw went out against ‘bad mind’ and, saying that love songs are forever, Riley crooned of “more than a million reasons to quit”, honouring Beres Hammond with a line of Groovy Little Thing.
There was a delightful touch of No One in Stay With You and dancers came up for the closing, climatic She’s Royal.
Collie Buddz worked with recorded tracks, rejoicing that “me deh ya inna sweet sweet Jamaica” and delivered his material in bonafide Jamaican style, the audience reacting to the wine encouragement “she only dance to reggae and calypso” and the weed celebration Come Around.
Stone Love with Geefuss came before Bounty Killer, who was out smiling (he would later say “I am all lovely tonight. I am in off- white.”) with a “Ka-boom!” before going into Mystery. Wutless Bway and Follow Di Arrow went out to the ladies. “Yu know why me bun hypocrite?”, he demanded, and Eagle and Di Hawk hit hard.
There was more for the women before Bounty gave respect to the sponsors, but cautioned “when yu sponsor understand the culture yu sponsoring”.
“There are certain things in the culture yu can’t go around. An’ de bigges’ one,” he said, voice rising as he said “no chi chi bway! No chi chi gal! No sodomite!” And the crowd roared as he went into Cyaan Believe Me Eye, then Anytime.
He had a guest of his own in Mavado, whose Real McKoy and Full Clip with Bounty, brought the audience to fever pitch, before closing with Gully Side and, Bounty informing “nutten no change”.
Gong started out calmly enough with “the master has come back”, which proved prophetic. Justice and In Too Deep, the songs done in full, came before the first guest, saxophonist Dean Fraser, on Beautiful. Cat Coore’s cello was utilised on There For You and a new song was sent out “fi mi fren dem”.
He delivered a suite of his father’s songs in good fashion, Who The Cap Fits and Zimbabwe being especially appreciated, then was back to his own with his take on Exodus, a cry of ‘sugar!’, signalling a restart for a leaping audience.
It was time for more guests, Elephant Man leaping to a Higher Level and signalling the plane, the roars going up as Bounty donned his Khaki Suit.
Jr. Gong requested that Busy Signal repeat Nah Go A Jail Again, then it was time for the final guest, Stephen Marley. The pair hailed From Waterhouse to Drewsland and hit a Traffic Jam, Jr. Gong pointing to the full moon on Pimper’s Paradise, with Stephen’s expressive voice very effective on It Was Written