Freddie Jackson glistened on Night II of Soul in the Sun
Claudia Gardner, Gleaner Writer
R&B superstar, Freddie Jackson glistened on Night II of Soul in the Sun, at The Aqueduct in Rose Hall in Montego Bay on Saturday night.
He had an instant connection with his audience, who could not get enough of him. He was fun, he was enchanting and he was soulful.
Clad in full white, the 58-year-old stepped to the microphone at 12:14 a.m., igniting the stage. And as he belted out the first line of Nice n' Slow, a throng of females galloped to the front of the stage to get closer to him. That rendition was followed by his 1986 release Have You Ever Loved Somebody, Tasty Love, and All I Ever Ask.
Between pelvic thrusting and bending to touch the females, who stretched their hands to touch his palm, it was obvious the ever-smiling Jackson was enjoying himself immensely.
"I went on a diet and I've been having a lot of sex," he quipped at one point in his performance, evoking laughter across the showground. He immediately followed this up with a humorous rebuke of himself: "I'm too old to be acting like this," resulting in more bouts of laughter, as he belted out Hey Lover.
His 1985 mega hits, You Are My Lady and Rock Me Tonight, from his platinum-selling debut album, had the audience going wild. The multi-award winning artiste came prepared for his predominantly Jamaican audience, as he even showed off his deejay skills chanting "love, love, love" in dancehall style, while showing off contemporary Jamaican dance moves, toward the close of his performance, resulting in a huge prolonged uproar. Turning back to the crowd, he chanted: "Say Freddie don't go-oh," to which the audience readily complied. After bidding the fans adieu, chants of "we want more" and "we want more Freddie" erupted. But there was to be no encore due to time constraints. However, a gracious Jackson ran back onstage to reassure his fans, that he enjoyed performing for them, urging the crowd to "invite me back" if they wanted more of him.
Jackson's performance was preceded by Richie Stephens, who was the lone major Jamaican act to grace the stage on the night. Also clad in full white, he was announced onstage by MC François St Juste at 9:20 p.m. The Westmoreland home-boy, unleashed a slew of original hits from his repertoire, as well as several cover versions. He began with Best Is Yet To Come, Trying To Get To You, Salt of the Earth, a rendition of Dennis Brown's Love's Got a Hold On Me and Hold On to What You've Got, as well as his 1990's Motown hits, By Your Side and Everytime You're There. The audience erupted when he started the first line of Luther Vandross' I'd Rather.
Stephens followed up with a medley of gospel choruses which the audience eagerly joined him in singing. He was joined onstage by a throng of dancers during his 'ska segment' and together they danced up a storm to the delight of the audience, with Stephens doing his usual acrobatics - splits and push-ups. He danced offstage, returning for an encore to perform Live Your Life.
The lone female to grace the stage was Regina Belle, who did an energetic 40-minute set.
Hits like Show Me The Way, This Is Love, and Make It Like It Was were some of her well-known songs which she performed.
Her performance surged to a climax when she called on Peabo Bryson, whom she introduced as her "friend and brother", to perform their Grammy award-winning collaboration A Whole New World. That rendition spurred the audience to their feet, some patrons whipping out smartphones to capture the two, as they belted out the lyrics to what was the Song of the Year at the 1993 Grammy Awards, and soundtrack for the Disney-animated fairytale Aladdin.
Prior to Bryson's appearance, the 51-year-old songstress paused to talk directly to her fans.
"Do I look cute for you all tonight? Don't worry about the grey," she said, referring to her salt and pepper coloured hair. "I decided I'm not colouring no more; I'm tired of colouring," she added before taking her audience into a session of praise with renditions of several gospel songs, while continuously professing her "love for the Lord".
Howard Hewett, former one-third of the trio Shalamar, was engaging as he was charismatic. Among the hits he unleashed were Stay, Once, Twice, Three Times, and This is For the Lover in You. He closed with his huge gospel hit Amen, better known as 'Thank God for giving me one more chance'. He reminded the audience, just before he started the song that: "You all have made this song last for 26 years."
Peabo Bryson's voice was impeccable. He took to the stage for his stint, following Jackson's performance, and wooed his fans with stellar hits like If Ever You're in My Arms Again, Tonight I Celebrate My Love, Let the Feeling Flow, Show and Tell, Can You Stop The Rain, and Ain't Nobody, as couples across the venue embraced each other tightly and sang along.
Bryson exited the stage at 1:42 a.m., and made way for Jeffery Osbourne who started by giving a synopsis of his love affair with Jamaica.
"I love the people; I love the food; I love the beaches," he announced. Osbourne could do no wrong as he had the venue spellbound with On the Wings of Love and Stay With Me Tonight.
"This is a song I do no place else but in Jamaica, because I know all Jamaican people love this song," he explained as he prepared them for the well-loved Shine On, before bringing the show to a grand end, several songs later.