People once raved about Woodstock. And Monterey too.
Now, as festivals go, Barbadians can proudly point to their Reggae Festival and boast the great spectacle it has become. And Sunday’s Digicel Reggae On The Hill РР despite being only one day provided adequate evidence for favourable comparison.
Thousands trekked to Farley Hill National Park armed with coolers, filled with drinks, and various baskets of goodies. And from the pungent smell that occasionally wafted through the air, there was an ample mix of highly potent dried leaves and seeds to be discreetly puffed as well.
The morning and afternoon sessions provided an opportunity for local artistes to expose their original material to the large audience, and they were warmly received. The likes of of Heartafiya, King Slimz, Fantom Dundeal and Tabitha accredited themselves well.
Tabitha created a good impression with selections such as Tell Me Now, Exodus and Weakness In Me.
The trimmed down Dundeal was arguably the best of the Bajan acts some would argue better than a few of the visiting acts with some worthy numbers inclusive of Push It In and Keep On Rise. He has definite possibilities.
The afternoon groove was maintained by a number of deejays, inclusive of DJ Indian, Mikey Dread, Peter Coppin and Monsta Piece, and John Doe, among others.
The Jamaican acts delivered in a big way, with fans responding with spontaneous exuberance each time the initial strains of some recognizable tune was played.
Queen Ifrica picked up after the opening salvos from Norris Man and, to the delightful backing of local band Project X, she regaled the crowd with selections such as Far Away, Below The Waist, Daddy and In Times Like These. It wasn’t just her music, but also her repartee with the fans that set the tone for what was to come later.
On most given occasions, Luciano would be the headline act in any company. That he wasn’t on Sunday was perhaps an indication of the quality of the line-up or maybe someone’s error. He didn’t disappoint his legion of local, regional and visiting fans while churning out the positive vibes with which he has become synonymous.
Standards such as Give Praise, It’s Me Again, Jah and Sweep Over My Soul, among others, enthralled a crowd only too willing to feast on his every word. Luciano’s music would not be out of place at a Pentecostal gathering, and the feel-good effect which seemed painted on the faces of many gathered had little to do with the strong earthy fragrance frequently carried by wind through the crowd.
Organizers perhaps could have allocated Luciano more time in a schedule which they tried to keep as tight as possible.
The Grammy Award-winning Steel Pulse from Birmingham, but with their roots very much in the Caribbean, also performed with the aplomb of musicians who have been in the business for more than three decades. They performed hits from their vast repertoire, such as Earth Crisis and Steppin Out. But of course there was one monstrous hit that all and sundry seemed to be waiting for and the response to the opening strains of Rally Round was thunderous.
Barrington Levy has graced the local stage on more than one occasion and his credentials are well known. He threw the fans into a frenzy with his sweet vocalization of selections such as Here I Come, Murderer, Be Strong and Broader Than Broadway. Listening to Levy is akin to putting coins in a jukebox, and on the night his was basically like listening to a flawless recorded session.
I-Octane impressed the fans on his hill outing and they responded well to his more popular tunes like My Life, Puff Up and Lose A Friend.
Beenie Man brought proceedings to a frenetic closure with the type of high-energy performance for which he is world-renown. Connecting immediately with the crowd on reaching the stage, the king of the dancehall had the massive crowd waving, chanting, mimicking, dancing, perhaps even smoking, with added verve to hits such as Dude, I’m Drinking, Let Him Go and Tell Me.
One left Farley Hill fully appreciative of the impact the likes of Hendrix, Joplin, Cocker and Redding would have had on their audiences those many, many moons ago.