Epic, that’s the best way to describe the final instalment of Reggae Sumfest, the three-night concert held in Catherine Hall, Montego Bay, Jamaica. At the end, the night undoubtedly belonged to Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Protoje and his band ‘The Indignation’, and Bunny Wailer.
R. Kelly, the man hailed as the King of R&B, who never appeared on last year’s show because he had an emergency throat surgery, delivered his highly anticipated notes; however, he failed to impress us. His performance seemed lackluster, hasty and detached. Patrons weren’t pleased having been forced to wait one and half hours after his schedule performance time. He appeared on stage Sunday just after 1am in the said attire local media outlets had photographied him in over 12 hours before.
Nevertheless, he managed to get the females screaming and shouting his name, as he reeled off hit after hit including Bump N’ Grind, You Remind Me of Something, and Fiesta. Some patrons were visibly upset and sat down through his less than an hour hasty and detached performance. He closed his act unexpectedly with Step In the name of Love and Happy People, furthering the dissatisfaction.
During his performance, he attempted to win over the audience, some of whom he was successful with, because of his obvious tardiness. During this moment he encouraged females to remove his shoe leaving him in socks, however, after he exited the stage, we understood, the females who removed them had to return them. So with R. Kelly and his theatrical piece out of the way, the stage was fit for the son of ‘The Gong’, Damian Marley, to save us. Jr. Gong, as he is often called, completed the task smoothly and impressed, with high energy from beginning to end, that eventually scored him an encore.
Before the Kelly’s drama, swag boy Christopher Martin glided across the stage with Cheaters Prayer, Paper Loving, Real Frenz. Martin even performed Carpenter originally voiced by John Holt, who had performed on International Night one. Protoje known for his rebellious and conscious lyrics scored several times with his band the Indignation, as they chanted away JA, Who Dem A Program, This is not a Marijuana Song and others.
Bunny Wailer took us down memory lane and pulled the curtain on Reggae Sumfest 20th Anniversary Concert, after Damian Marley’s epic performance, in a special Jamaica 50 tribute segment– alongside the Skatalites– packed with several hits and crowd favourites.
Other performances for the night came from A.J. Brown, Raine Seville, Conkarah, Q-Ban and Jedani. Paula-Anne Porter-Jones and François St. Juste were both celebrated for their years of service to Reggae Sumfest, the latter having served for 20 years.