Quality closure - Charlie Wilson leads strong Jazz Saturday night
Mega hitmaker Charlie Wilson was to Mariah Carey what Billy Ocean was to Diana Ross when she was booed in 2008, when he helped salvage the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival's reputation on the final night of the three-day event.
The diva of all divas, who tagged himself 'I AM Charlie Wilson', shared the spotlight with the all-star cast at the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium on Saturday night. Smooth operator, the indomitable Peter Cetera, had the audience hanging on to every note; pop dynamos The Pointer Sisters delivered a commanding performance; talented American reggae band SOJA took ownership; and yuppies Magic created an experience befitting their name.
Together, they muted memories of a mediocre Mariah Carey, Friday's headline act.
Shining bright like a diamond, Charlie Wilson entered the stage at 10:10 p.m. to the sound of roosters crowing, indicating to those who may have fallen asleep that it was time to wake up.
A stage performer of no mean order, Wilson seemed incapable of getting tired, even at the age of 62. Sweating profusely, he declared confidently, "Jamaica, I came to smash you up." He meant it, because the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium became a musical furnace, obedient members of the audience pulling out their smartphones and following Wilson's every mood.
When he instructed them to upload his photos to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, they did as told.
The women screamed, the men admired, and when Charlie Wilson sang "I love it all night, baby", he delivered on his smashing promise. Wilson went from one costume to another, at one point electrifying the venue with a jacket lit up with LEDs.
There was no lip synching - and there was no need, as Wilson's voice has stood the test of time. The singer, who went from rags to riches, then back to rags because of cocaine and alcohol before returning to riches, sang "I love you, Charlie" and My God is Amazing.
Rejoicing in his blessings, Charlie Wilson took the audience to church. An encore brought him back on stage with I Wanna Be Your Man and, not long after, Wilson was trying his vocals at Jamaican dancehall.
Songwriter, bass player and former lead singer of the rock group Chicago, 70-year-old Peter Cetera was the balancing act for the night - or what those who drink different types of wine during dinner call a palate cleanser.
Changing the mood and giving the audience an opportunity to recover from the high-energy Charlie Wilson, Cetera showed why he remains a favourite among music lovers worldwide when he pulled songs from an impressive repertoire. He did Stay the Night, Next Time I Fall In Love, and Sadie, before closing a stellar performance.
When it was time for The Pointer Sisters, the audience didn't need much prompting. The performance by three generations of women for the same family - with the granddaughter pregnant to boot - was a special treat.
The forceful female group did Jump (For My Love) and I'm So Excited, before inviting members of the audience to find a partner and help The Pointer Sisters with one of their biggest hits, Slow Hand.
The Grammy-award winning group had no need to change costumes more than twice during their uptempo act, burning musically like the Fire they sang of.
Pop reggae band SOJA, a heavyweight outfit of singers, drummers and guitarists which is tagged one of the best in the world, showed versatility and opened audience members' eyes to the crÈme de la crËme of reggae music.
While many may be worried that reggae has been taken over by other nations, the receptive crowd would have none of that. "Reggae is in good hands," said one patron.
SOJA was electrifying and powerful, filling the stadium with an energy not evident on Thursday and Friday night.
In the case of Magic, every note felt like magic to the ear. Wearing red, cropped pants suits, the Toronto-based, youthful-looking group intoxicated the audience. Rude, their personal anthem which has become popular with many Jamaicans, hit the right notes.
The Montego Bay Boys' Club Band and Tammy and Klive opened the closing night of the 2015 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival.