It was more than an ordinary performance. Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds delivered a soul-stirring, goose-bump raising, concert style show that can easily rival any performance the singer has given around the world – and it was clear that the night belonged to him.
Sharply dressed in an all-black ensemble, Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds indelibly wrote his name in the annals of the history of the JAMAICA Jazz and Blues Festival. Making his triumphant entrance on the epic stage to the chords This Is For The Cool, and the stage lighting bounced off his skin magnificently.
“Whoo!” he said, to excite the thousands gathered at The Greenfield Stadium in Trewalany, and in complete sync with his band, he shouted “Good evening Jamaica!” Then it was official, Babyface had arrived and was ready to rock the Festival and its patrons.
He beckoned to the ladies to scream, before performing Close My Eyes , which he dedicated to his now fawning female fans. Babyface’s vocal chords are still in shape and well tunes, and he used every bit of his musical mastery to woo the JAMAICA Jazz and Blues Festival for almost two hours, with a full set of the extensive repertoire of music the artiste has developed over the years, including a guitar showdown with his band’s lead guitarist.
Every now and then, the smooth-skinned and agile Babyface threw in a bit of comedy and his on-stage antics bolstered the crowd to show him even more love and the crowd seemed to have reached its capacity for screaming. That soon proved to be only temporary, as Mr Edmonds decided to go through a medley of songs he wrote and produced for other artistes including Day and Night, Every Step I Take, I Wanna Rock With You Baby , Can We Talk For A Minute , My My My , Mama , and To The End Of The Roa d – to which he added a spontaneous jump into the crowd. His set also included a tear-jerking tribute to the late King of Pop Michael Jackson, with Gone Too Soon .
While Babyface’s performance was hands down the performance of the night, stagemate and UK-based singer Joss Stone also proved to be more than worth watching. Walking out by asking “are you ready to sing with me now”, the songbird jumped into the crowd who were lukewarm to the petite bombshell. The crowd now fully excited and engaged, Stone made her way back to the stage where her band struck the right note as she posed another question to the Festival’s patrons. This time, it was “are you digging on me?” The answer was simple and loud: “yes”, followed by emphatic exclamations from the multitudes ready to see her perform.
She breezed through her fast-building catalogue of music, and like most international acts do when the touch Jamaican stages, Stone sang the King of Reggae’s I Wanna Love You, and made the Marley melody all her own. Her performance reached a crescendo when she brought saxophonist to front of stage, and transformed the space into an onstage jazz café, and patrons didn’t mind in the least.
Local acts also rocked the stage well, including Romain Virgo and Cherine Anderson. The two, who performed early in the night, had persons rocking and rolling to their sweet songs and infectious music. So much so, that the two acts stayed locked in media interviews until wee hours of Friday morning, talking to persons who not only saw their stint on-stage, but heard raving and glowing comments about it.
Also of note were the Festival’s closing act, The Whispers. They go the beat going even as drizzles of rain damped the musically satisfied patrons, and when the energy-laced beat of When The Beat Goes On began to make familiar with jazzmaniacs, not even the showers could stop the dancing. Their mellow-mood set ended with patrons reaching a musical high that will not soon be forgotten.
The JAMAICA Jazz and Blues Festival will continue today, Friday January 29 with Erykah Badu, Billy Ocean, Machel Montano HD, Robin Banks, Deborah Cox, Tamia, and Kelly Price. The latter three will be performing as The Queens Project. Friday night, nicknamed ‘Friday on Fire’ is sure to go down in history as one of the best ever concert nights of the Festival.
Reprinted with material from Headline Entertainment.