FAS Entertainment’s Vintage Reggae Show at Kensington Oval last weekend, was arguably one of the better productions staged by the franchise in recent memory.
And much of this had to do with the dynamism and freshness brought to the proceedings by the incomparable Josey Wales. The popular Jamaican dancehall deejay of the 1980s lit up the stage with his energy and infectious rhythms. Selections such as Undercover Lover and Never Let Go swept the massive crowd back to an era when the gruff-voiced artiste was at the height of his exceptional powers. Fans lapped it up and begged for more.
There was one avoidable moment, however, when emcee Admiral Nelson rushed in where others might have feared to tread. Part of Wales’ on stage lingo was an intermittent use of the words “Jesus Christ”. Neither his tone nor intent suggested profanity, which would have been impossible in any event since the words in themselves are not indecent. Indeed, the quip or ‘call out’ of sorts is featured on some of his recorded work such as Leggo Me Hand, Gatemanon the Golden Hen riddim. He uses the term in much the same way as other artistes frequently utter “Lord, have mercy”.
But it was made an issue on-stage by Nelson who suggested police had given instructions the words should not be used on stage. Whether this was true or not, and whether coming from civilian or constabulary, whoever interpreted the use of “Jesus Christ” as indecent should have been immediately relieved of their official duties and given a tray to sell confectionery on Broad Street out of harm’s way. It was sanctimonious folly and the boos from the crowd directed at Nelson spoke volumes. Wales subsequently continued his act to a crescendo of delighted cheers.
Seventy-year-old Johnny Osbourne made his Vintage debut with quite a bang.
One of the best dancehall singers ever, Osbourne sizzled with songs such as No Ice Cream Sound,Water Pumping and Reasons. But his true ‘wow’ moment came when the intro bass strains of the classic Buddy Bye went around the Oval. Fans sang every line, waved, hopped, swayed, jumped and thoroughly enjoyed the vibes.
The sweet-singing Tony Tuff, another outstanding deejay from the 1970s and 1980s, accredited himself quite well during his stint on stage. The sexagenarian went through some of his well known songs in what was like spinning tunes in a juke box, with selections such as Come Fi Mash It, The First Time I Met You and Dance In The Area, among others.
Leroy Gibbons made his second appearance at the Vintage show and once again showed off excellent vocals with mostly covers of songs such as This Magic Moment, Cupid, Four Season Lovers and Clyde McPhatter’s classic A Lover’s Question.
Vintage regular Ernie Smith – like Osbourne – in his 70th year, and whose deep baritone seems to get sweeter as he gets balder and greyer, had fans feasting on his every word as he delivered hits from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The stir among the crowd showed their fondness for the numbers he belted out such as Bend Down, Pitta Patta, Duppy And A Gunman and All For Jesus.And thankfully no one complained for his reference to Jesus in his song.
British-born Jamaican JC Lodge of Someone Loves You, Honey fame had earlier got the international segment of the show off and running and though by her own admission her voice was not the best because of a bug, her time on stage was still well spent.
The closing act was Freddie McGregor and he did not disappoint. He has appeared in Barbados before and never fails to deliver. McGregor, who turns 62 next month, was in fine voice with songs such as Big Ship, Push Comes To Shove, I Don’t Want To Be Lonely and a host of others. Part of his appeal is his repartee with the crowd and in this area he was also on point.
The occasion had got started with the Troubadours and Mike Thompson and Adrian Clarke up front, thrilling the crowd with their sweet vocalisations. Thompson’s rendition of Marry Me which was covered by local band Lunar 7 more than three decades ago was pure magic. And to complement the singers, the backing band was fabulous.