Reggae carries Sting through early morning
The importance of reggae to Sting 2014, held at Jamworld, Portmore, St Catherine, from Boxing Day into Saturday's daylight hours was underscored by Tarrus Riley closing his 25-minute stint at 4 a.m., ending with a bit of Cut It Off.
With many a reggae artiste riding a dancehall style mix from the band, as well as reggae beats included in the material served up by the dancehall artistes, there was not a definite distinction between the two shows (a reggae and dancehall segment) as publicised.
Nowhere was this more evident than during Capleton's excellent 50-minute set, beginning with the reggae of That Day Will Come, and for the encore, also with the reggae of Raggy Road. There were several reggae tracks in between, but the dancehall of Slew Dem, Or Wha and many other hits, brought the audience to howling fever pitch again and again. Then, Capleton was as much choreographer as deejay, as he coordinated waves against injustice, death without dignity, Ebola, chikungunya and a range of other issues.
The pattern was repeated over and over again to good effect - the band playing softly as Capleton spoke to the audience; the tempo of the music rising in lockstep with his voice; music and vocals at their peak as Capleton moved from dialogue into song; the crowd shouting its approval and Capleton turning back to the band and leaping sideways.
There were points where he settled into extensive lyrics (including one song which named some shows he has burned musical fire at before, which included a line about his famed Sting 2002 stage entry on a throne) and another at which he did on-the-spot knee lifts as the band picked up the tempo.
At no point did he huff and puff in exhaustion, and Capleton asked that Laing schedule him for two hours the next time around as he has the 'lionlogue' (as opposed to catalogue) to do it.
Between Capleton and Riley was the misplaced pop and dancehall of Janielle, a bevy of supple dancers on stage, at least providing some eye-catching moments. When Riley came on, preceded by a fire dancer, the flames at both ends of his stick matched by fire images on the digital backdrop, it was back to music which resonated with the audience.
Lion Paw and Beware hit the spot, the white-clad, smiling Riley including a healthy serving of lovers' rock in Human Nature and a well-executed John Legend double of All of Me, sung to music from the keyboards, with a smooth transition into Riley's cover of Stay With You.
Dean Fraser (who Riley described as the legend from Trench Town) on saxophone, played a prominent role in the set, including during the pairing of To The Limit and My Day.
In the earlier going, Dann-I got the good run of reggae going after a woeful showing by Orisha Sound, whose violin playing provided a rare connection with her audience. He showed that he has more material than the humorous infidelity tune, Uncle Come, doing a song referencing Earth a Run Red.
Ataru appealed to favourable sentiments towards Buju Banton and Vybz Kartel and recovered from one off-key song to earn himself an encore - the line, "A song without a message is like a home without a floor."
The Sting audience cheered for the lines, "The moment yu siddung and set up yu Facebook/Every cop a station know how yu face look."
Loyal Flames, who has a pleasantly raspy voice, made good use of his song, Break Free; and Ikaya's excellent voice carried her opening Hard Way. I Ain't Giving Up reinforced her relationship commitment and Ikaya teamed up with Shuga to close with Dat Nah Go Work, their joint statement of making it in music on their legs, not on their backs.
Ikaya again showcased her strong vocals to close with, "Me come to one conclusion/Me nah trus' nutten whe a human."
The gospel according to Kukudoo was in the reggae segment and, though out of the dominant musical theme at the time, tapped into the enduring Christian spirituality from his early chants of his trademark, "hi, hi, hi" and especially with King David, the audience cheering lustily as he sang, "see people business and leave it alone".
Droop Lion (who got extended stage time), Exco Levi, Iba Mahr and Kabaka Pyramid, in that order, continued reggae's very strong showing at Sting 2014. Droop Lion included Seven Spanish Angels, Soul Rebel and Hello Carol, in his set, while Levi was in a no-nonsense mood, criticising the lawmen who close down dances with, "2 o'clock dem pull up inna dem jeep/An Joe Grine dung a dem yard a tear sheet."
Iba Mahr's trio of popular songs Step Away, Diamond Socks (which took the house down) and Burning were done back to back, his good delivery meeting the expected very positive response.
Kabaka Pyramid delivered on his promise of "intelligent fire", starting with No Capitalist, declaring "never goona be a slave" and requesting a round of applause for the government for its "well done" mayhem upon the country. "Me no come ya fi clash no artiste," Pyramid said. "But me have a message. Keep it clean or Rasta a go bun yu."
The tempo built with Warrior into his closing, Mi Alright (done without Chronixx), for which Jamworld erupted.