by Wade Gibbons
Most of them have been here before.
And have performed with great aplomb.
But whether it was the light intermittent showers that actually added to the occasion, or the economic times that meant patrons wisely enjoyed themselves having parted with their hard-earned money, the undoubted quality of the show, or a combination of the three, the superlatives showered on the artistes during and after Friday night’s Vintage Reggae at Kensington Oval were overwhelming.
And the kudos were not misplaced.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Barbadians purchased tickets to hear Winston Foster perform almost two decades ago. To their chagrin, he never turned up for the show. But on Friday, Yellow Man was very much onstage and though not exactly the force he was in the early 1980s when he was the biggest dancehall performer on earth or Mars, Yellow Man still turned on the crowd in his own inimitable style. He took patrons down memory lane with numbers such as I’m Getting Married, Mister Chin and Zungguzungguguzungguzeng, all the while riding each rhythm with the easy efficiency that has been his hallmark.
Fab Five have lost the vocal brilliance of the late Peter Scarlett for more than two decades, but continue to show that though his distinct voice is missing from hits he made popular such as Sweet Pea, Love Me For A Reason and Come Back And Stay, drummer Asley “Grub” Cooper has more than adequately compensated. On the night Jamaica’s second oldest band were simply in fine voice as they delved into their more than 40-years-old musical treasure chest.
Perhaps John Holt, the headline act in most company, surrendered this position to his fellow countrymen on Friday, but his was still a headline performance. He had the massive crowd singing, swaying and dancing as he churned out selection after selection. His delivery of A Love I Can Feel, Doctor Love and If I were A Carpenter was surely further proof that the origins of lover’s rock must rest somewhere in this, arguably, greatest of all of reggae’s tenors.
Delroy Pinchers Thompson also endeared himself to the fans with a number of his popular songs from the 1980s and 1990s. Pinchers got great crowd response not only for his selections but also from his interaction with the crowd. They sang along with him when he belted out Agony but reserved their greatest show of approval when he delivered his biggest ever number, the 1991 melodically infectious but lyrically challenged Bandelero.
When Calvin Scott took the sobriquet Cocoa Tea, he probably could not have chosen a more apt title. The sweet-voiced performer was arguably the best on stage during the show that stretched to just over seven hours.
His set included such signature numbers as Israel’s King, Riker’s Island, Holy Mount Zion and Love Me and all delivered in that sweet melodic tone with which he has been associated for more than 30 years. And fans seemed incapable of getting enough, beseeching him to go on and on which he appeared willing to do.
The local contingent of Tony Grazette, Super Reuben and Biggie Irie also added to the high quality fare with the latter especially impressing with his own Ten Tons of Love and some Jamaican classics such as Ernie Smith’s Pitta Patta.
Patrons left Fontabelle without complaint. firstname.lastname@example.org