The Barbados Reggae Festival began with a bang on Sunday, featuring Reggae On The Beach at the new Reggae Island.
A venue change, yes! No sand; no sea breeze; but the vibes were just the same. Over 5,000 reggae lovers packed the venue located at Pierhead Lane, Lower Bay Street, St Michael. The crowd had their personal favourites, and waited patiently to see and party with them; but collectively it made for one great night.
International reggae artists Gully Bop, Popcaan and Mavado were the headline acts for the first of the 2015 reggae shows which turned out to be a truly eventful one.
Gully Bop was the first of the international artistes to perform, and he did not disappoint. Fan or not, we were all captivated by the story of his speedy rags-to-riches experience, and couldn’t wait to see this new reggae sensation onstage.
When host Jamar De Star introduced him by his signature refrain “Gully Bop Bop Bop”, the crowd went wild, grabbing every vantage point to get a glimpse of the singer. The now popular artiste, who rose to fame last November, spewed song after song, even bringing his companion Ms Chin to the stage to join him in free style. A few female fans were disappointed when Gully Bop left the stage, without their having an opportunity to “get a wuk offa him”.
Popcaan was next, much to the delight of his many fans. His now famous signature sound of “Yaowwwwwww” was enough to have the girls screaming and those directly at the front of the stage jumping up and down in excitement.
The exuberant artiste, no stranger to Barbados, presented a repertoire of his hits, including Only Man She Want, Everything Nice, Party Shot, Fall In Love, Dream, Unruly Rave and Only Jah No.
Poppy, as he is affectionately known, came onstage sporting his hair in one, quite differently from his usual plaits. Included in his set were snippets of some popular songs by dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, who is now incarcerated.
Before making his exit after a 35-minute performance, Poppy teased the audience with one of his newest hits, Where We Come From, which many of them could be heard asking for.
Mavado, the Gully God, was next onstage, closing the show. His fan club, turned choir later on, assembled at front and centre. He opened his set with his hit Dem Nuh Real McCoy.
His performance would be temporarily interrupted by a fight among the crowd. Mavado, expressing his shock at the disruption, urged the patrons to be on their best behaviour so everyone could enjoy the show. Resuming his set, he sang for the ladies.
He would captivate them with the likes of Caribbean Girls, Settle Down, Delilah, I’m So Special, Come Into My Room and Neva Believe You.
The Gully God returned to the stage for an encore performance as his fans couldn’t get enough. He reminded them that he loved Barbados and that it would always have a special place in his heart, as his grandparents were from Barbados.
The Barbadian artistes were just as entertaining, gripping the attention of the audience in the earlier part of the show. Stiffy was plugged into all and sang for the ladies too, and Peter Ram was his usual self, keeping the crowd hyped up.
Kirk Brown, Slimz, Celebrity Face, Leadpipe And Saddis, Lady Essence and partner Mole also contributed to the versatility onstage.
The Reggae Festival continues on Friday with Vintage Reggae at the Wildey Gymnasium, the Party Cruise on Saturday aboard the Jolly Roger, and the climactic Reggae On The Hill at Farley Hill National Park.