Now that is what you call a show! No ifs, buts or maybes about it, Sunday’s Digicel Reggae On The Hill was one of the best in the event’s ten-year history. It had everything one could ever ask for; and all performers were standouts.
How the promoters will top this next year, only God knows!
There was no time for sport making on this stage, since the nigh 20,000-strong crowd was at Farley Hill for one reason: great music. Indeed, that was what they received: from the acts of the likes of Sluggy Dan, Superstar, Hearta Fiya, Tabitha, Brimstone, Vision, Hotta Flames, Albert Olton, as well as Jamaicans Bugle and The Voice winner Tessanne Chin, right up to the Jamaican superstar Jah Cure hitting his last note.
Before Jah Cure though, all the attention was on one man –– Hugh Beresford Hammond. Some patrons who saw his gaunt figure would have been somewhat dubious about how he would manage the stage, but those of us who know of Beres would have thought better than to doubt his vocal powers and performance skills.
Adeptly, he offered us his first song –– Can’t Stop A Man –– and for 60 continuous minutes he kept going and going. He proceeded with Step Aside, She Loves Me Now, What Once Dance Can Do, I Wish, Tempted To Touch, Who Say, Double Trouble, Putting Up Resistance, Can You Play Some More? –– and as a matter of fact he could.
Beres’ performance was so infectious, that his entire band got in the do –– from the three backup vocalists to the drummer, bassist, saxophonists and keyboardists, who further uplifted the set with a musical interlude. And if patrons thought then that Beres was finished, weren’t they in for a surprise! The soulful master switched gears as he belted out other lovers’ rock hits like I Feel Good, They Gonna Talk and No Disturb Sign.
It was evident, by the thousands on every spot of the hill waving flags and singing along, that patrons wanted more of Beres; and they roared for him. Before he exited the stage at 8:28 p.m., making way for his protégé, he hit the humongous crowd with one of his biggest hits –– Rockaway and this sent his fans in a frenzy.
When Jah Cure took the stage for his set, the audience was still very much revved up from Beres’ performance and Cure utilized the momentum to the maximum. He dealt his listeners hit after hit: Sticky, Jah Bless Me, Sunny Days, Love Is The Solution, You’ll Never Find and That Girl, before going back in time with Divide And Rule. His performance was authentic and profoundly meaningful.
The new husband and father then teased his audience with his reggae version of John Legend’s All Of Me –– as he disrobed, throwing his ruby red suspenders, bow tie and shirt into the crowd for the admiring fans wanting at least part of him.
Music Save My Life, the tattooed message on his arms, was a stark reminder of where this young man came from, and he made no bones about recounting his past in the 2007 breakout hit Reflection, which he performed prior to closing the 2014 Digicel Reggae Festival with From My Heart, Searching, Longing For and the enduring Unconditional Love.
It might have been Chronixx’s first time on stage at Farley Hill, but the “young legend” had no trouble settling in. At 5:40 p.m. he came onstage to a warm reception from patrons, and, for his 55-minute set, the tall, casually dressed 21-year-old, with a style reminiscent of 1970s reggae icons, captivatingly delivered songs from his expanding repertoire of hits. Here Comes Trouble, Ain’t No Giving In, Most I and They Don’t Know were some of the songs he rolled off –– those which have contributed to his meteoric rise in reggae, with many crediting him with the resurgence of the one drop rhythm.
About to slow things down a bit, around 6 p.m., Chronixx asked the crowd if he could sing a few songs for all the beautiful women of Barbados. With a voice so groovy that it gave people a sense of euphoria, they responded with a resounding affirmation, and he blessed them with Access Granted, Behind Curtain and the new unofficial Jamaican Anthem Smile Jamaica.