TOO MANY ARTIST AT REBEL SALUTE
With the plethora of acts on this year's Rebel Salute, there is no way the event should have been held in anything less than two days and possibly even three.
Some 50-plus acts were scheduled to perform on the one-night festival, and all seemed to have been present...and then some. This naturally led to the recurrent situation of a long line of acts trying to fit into crunch time and this resulted in sets which were too long, some way too short and acts who should have simply just stayed home.
However, there were several performances during the 15-hour festival that were indeed noteworthy and did manage to excite the thousands gathered inside the Port Kaiser Sports Club in St Elizabeth.Case in point was the sole overseas act on the bill, British Reggae act, Steel Pulse. Lead singer David Hines and his band took to the stage at 4:40am, and were abruptly yanked from the stage after only four tracks. Then there was singer Alaine who entered centrestage at 7:25 am. She then proceeded to do four tracks at a time when the audience was tired and the morning sun had begun show its brilliance. And, although Rebel Salute is Queen Ifrica's playground, her set was a bit too long, despite her repeated protests that she was not going to "violate as nuff artistes backstage".
It was the night for the deejays from the 80s. General Trees and the historian, Peter Metro were worth every dollar they were paid as they gave the audience what they paid for...true entertainment. Mr 'Gone a Negril' earned the only real forward of the night, when the MC had no choice but to bring back the artiste after he showed some of the stuff that made him popular back in the day. His performance was only to be topped by his era-mate, Peter Metro.
Bursting with enthusiasm and full of lyrics, Metro took control from the moment he hit the stage. Having been introduced by MC Jenny Jenny as a historian, he gave Port Kaiser a history lesson and everyone took note. Peter Metro took on issues, criticised his fellow deejays for embracing the gun culture; made known his contempt for "di dutty gunman dem" and got political by stating his lack of confidence in "dis ya bredda yah who seh him name di driver".
Reggae music clearly needs more voices with substance. More voices like Peter Metro and Queen Ifrica's which will examine the real issues affecting society (bleaching, incest, teenage pregnancy) and use the music as the medium to place them on the front burner and keep them there.
Not to be outdone was King Shango who can always be counted on to involve his audience into his set. This was used to great effect as Capleton energised the crowd at 5:15 am and had them on their feet waving as he blazed the Port Kaiser venue.
Also providing entertainment value was Metromedia's real big man (no pun intended), Sky Juice. In addition to toasting and vibing up the crowd, the big belly man, carved out his own niche by performing a strip tease that was second to none, and proceeding to cap it all by a full 180 degrees split. In another life, Sky Juice must have been a ballet/belly dancer ... and a good one too.
Showing their mettle were singers Tarrus Riley, Singing Melody, Gramps Morgan and Jah Cure. Mr Melody, a member of the group LUST and also a solo act scored with songs such as Let It Flow, Say What? Want You Back, a reggae cover of the Secret Garden hit, and LUST 2008 Song of the Year, Just As I Am. The perennial performer, Freddy McGregor, hit his marker on stage and when he exited, seven tracks, later his audience was satisfied.
Tarrus, who clearly understood the importance of makng an impact in the shortest possible time, did a tight, entertaining set. He jumped a little outside the box with the "I-sing-and-dare-you-to-play" routine which he and saxophonist Dean Fraser have created and which always captivates the imagination of the audience. Many artistes should take lessons as this is the type of creativity which separates a singer from a showman and replaces mundane with memorable.
It was a night on which the artistes sought to take up causes, the most popular of which were Haiti and incarcerated deejay, Buju Banton. Both Gramps and Jah Cure, himself having gone that road, wore their 'Free Buju' T-shirts on stage and pleaded the cause. Jah Cure shared that it was Buju who assisted with his first set of legal fees while he was "behind those prison walls".
Rebel Salute 2010 also gave a mike and stage to artistes who have not been seen locally for some time -- Junior Mervin, The Itals, Barrington Levy, Admiral Tibet, Daddy U-Roy, Leroy Gibbons, Anthony Malvo with a cameo from Tiger. This haven't-seen-in-a-while line-up is even more reason why the show should be spread over days.
Flames must be commended for the tight manner in which the set changes were executed, great sound and lighting, a warm ambience inside the venue. However, Rebel Tony needs to tighten that line-up if the as the all night till daylight culture has died.