Welcome to Jamrock Cruise makes splash
Davina Henry, Gleaner Writer
It was almost too perfect. With the Caribbean Sea and beautiful Jamaican night sky providing a picturesque backdrop, the bass-filled beats of hardcore dancehall and soulful melodies of reggae combined perfectly.
No, it was not a movie. It was the third day of the first Welcome To Jamrock Cruise, organised by Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley. The cruise, which kicked off in Miami, had already featured performances from Julian 'Juju' Marley, Tarrus Riley and Shaggy.
On Wednesday night, for the leg off the Jamaican coast, Etana, dubbed 'The Strong One', opened the show with a spectacular performance. Delivering popular songs such as Warrior Love, Blessings and Free, Etana delivered a commanding performance to the very receptive audience.
Upcoming artiste Jo Mersa Marley joined her for their duet, Thy Will Be Done.
Singer Jah Cure delivered what was arguably one of his better performances. It was the first time that many of the fans were seeing the singer in person, and their appreciation did not go unnoticed.
As Jah Cure took the audience members on a musical voyage, they sang along lustily to hits such as Divide and Rule, Sunny Day and Sticky. His love songs tugged at the hearts of receptive female fans, who screamed and sang along to Love Is, Longing For, Call On Me, his version of John Legend's All Of Me, and You'll Never Find.
After commending the Marley brothers for organising a reggae cruise, Jah Cure briefly spoke about his incarceration. "You have some big artistes that are currently in prison. Artistes like Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel. I know from experience that prison nuh easy," he stated.
At the first few lines of True Reflections, the crowd erupted. Jah Cure ended his set on a musical high with Unconditional Love. But that was not enough, as eager fans called for his return and Jah Cure willingly obliged.
Almost an Hour-long set
Although he has been busy touring Europe for the past two years, fans of Busy Signal clearly could not get enough of the 'hothead' deejay. For almost an hour, Busy delivered from his impressive catalogue of songs, entertaining the audience from beginning to end.
Opening with his more hardcore dancehall tunes such as Step Out, Bad Man Place, The Days, and We Not Going Down, the energetic deejay had audience members jumping and singing along.
He also took time out to pay tribute to the late John Holt, who passed away last weekend. Returning to his fiery, towering dancehall form, Busy Signal's voice was strong as he dropped additional lyrics into familiar material.
"In 2012, it was so different for me. I'm so happy that the past is on the pass. Me nuh haffi elaborate, you all know what happened. But the Most High help up Busy Signal. Big up to the judicial system. Give thanks to all who played a role," he told the audience before belting out, "Jah Rastafari" and launching into his song Mi Deh Yah.
By this time, the females were ready to party. Songs such as Pon The Edge, Tip Pon Yuh Toe, Picante, and Bedroom Bully saw the women showcasing their wining abilities. When Busy Signal slowed down the pace, his set did not lose momentum. He delivered popular songs including Night Shift, One More Night and Miss You.
Proving that he is a consummate performer and a force to be reckoned with, Busy Signal earned the biggest response of the night for Bumaye. With hands, rags and towels waving in the night sky, patrons rocked the ship at the first few words of "pull up".
Busy' voice soared above the screams as he delivered one of his best performances to date.
The night would have been amazing had it ended there, but there was still one act left to come, and he exceeded all expectations. The militant, cross, angry, miserable Bounty Killer showcased just why he has remained as one of the top dancehall deejays over two decades.
Bounty Killer dug deep into his catalogue and had fans in a frenzy for some of his older tunes, including Down In The Ghetto, Cellular Phone and Living Dangerously.
His battle cry of "People dead!" saw many fingers being pointed like guns as fans screamed their appreciation. After a technical glitch, which saw Bounty Killer informing the engineer that "I are the one", it was back to more hit music.
Reeling off Book Book Book, Sufferer, Mystery, and Another Level, Bounty Killer began to broaden the subject matter into his trademark street-savvy social commentary.
"All who didn't know me before, try and know me now. This is the Warlord, not the war lady. Unuh ready fi get rowdy? We deh pon a cruise, so dis nuh name Jamaica Tourist Board, right now it name Jamaica Music Board," he told the enthusiastic crowd. This led to an arsenal of more hits, including Can't Believe Me Eye, Anytime and Benz and Bimmer.
"I am the Grung Gad, so I don't do too well in water. But, any man whe nuh have a gal pon the boat, you need fi chuck off and float," he said to much laughter.
It was time for the ladies to "get wild for the General", as he serenaded them with songs such as It's OK, Say You Leaving, Get Gal Everyday, and It's A Party.
Bounty Killer was joined onstage by Junior Gong and Baby Cham, to end the night on an energetic note.