Night and day, wind and raindrops - Rebel Salute night two a 13-hour marathon
Yesterday morning, a brisk wind tugged at the striped tie dangling from Sanchez's right rear pocket as his exquisite voice, spot-on song selections and synergy with the band repeatedly whipped the large audience at Grizzly's Plantation Cove, Priory, St Ann, into a frenzy.
The singer had already taken off his jacket to carry the festival into the crucial Sunday morning stretch drive at close to 7 o'clock - and although the audience members did not know, there were still more than three hours Rebel Salute 2017's night two to go.
The concert started on time at 9 p.m. on Saturday with reggae of Rockaz Element Band and ended at 10 a.m. on Sunday with Ras Moses dancehall rejoicing of "I'm OK", even as he revelled in repeatedly lamenting that it was hard to be the dancehall king because no one wanted to perform after him.
The wind was consistent throughout the concert's duration except the bright sunshine hours, angling a brief spatter of raindrops close to midnight that did not dislodge audience members from their chosen spots, although the number of umbrellas that popped open indicated a high-level readiness for all conditions during the musical marathon.
The wind meandered through generations, ska standout Derrick Morgan remarking, "You see de breeze weh a blow, it out fe push me dung. Me no have no balance ... ." He stood as firmly as he could to do Forward March in fine form. About an hour later, the rambunctious breeze added to the drama of Morgan's daughter Queen Ifrica's long coat, the audience members laughing as she described it as a "birthday suit" for her man, Tony Rebel, as she did Good Man in a strong, extended, controlled set which included Daddy and Lioness on the Rise. Latesha stepped out of her more accustomed dancehall dancing persona to lead a quartet for an Ifrica selection.
The second night of Rebel Salute 2017 was a series of mostly strong segments, which sometimes peaked. Only Third World, who, after a lengthy band change, had a rare smidgen of enthusiasm with Sattamassagana and Dreamland, and Tanto Metro and Devonte, who pursued a highly unappreciated friendly vocal clash to the point of inducing harassing handclaps from the rear left (facing the stage) audience section before wrapping up with Everyone Falls in Love, experienced rough going in the final third.
The concert had got going in earnest from just before 11 p.m. on Saturday with Ras Shiloh's striking voice alternating his material (Child of a Slave) and Garnet Silk's (Oh Me, Oh My). It was the start of an effective run that included Duane Stephenson ending a strong set with August Town, and Bushman, who reported in significantly more relaxed form than previously seen, to lift the audience again and again, Lighthouse and Downtown among the songs that hit home.
Leroy Sibbles expressed his musical excellence with his fingers as well as his voice on Book of Rules, the audience members roaring when he played the bassline for Sattamassagana, which he composed. While Gibbons enjoyed good moments at the start of his cover songs, beginning with Cupid, intense enthusiasm fell as he continued the tracks. And the cooling down continued with Junior Kelly, who had Receive among his night's content.
Strangejah Cole shook a mean leg on Rough and Tough to begin another strong run, Derrick Morgan following and fellow Clarendonian Cocoa Tea after. Cocoa Tea was spectacular, opening with a quartet of songs targeting social concerns, which he said was "a different type of Cocoa Tea song". The audience listened to the breakdown of 75 per cent in poverty and 25 per cent in luxury, then showed vociferous appreciation when the singer went out to material like Love Me Truly and Tune In.
Like Bushman, Cocoa Tea rued - and pushed - the time constraints, Jesse Royal starting with the Rastafarian chant How Long. Then came the band change and Third World, before Sanchez reinvigorated the crowd, musically lifting his eyes to the father to open on an appropriate Sunday morning note and never flagging after. "If you no move while ago, you need to go to the morgue," Mutabaruka commented afterwards.
Agent Sasco effectively combined dancehall and roots reggae with a connecting narrative for an excellent set to an audience that obeyed his opening entreaty to "put yu han in de air", gave a belly roar for Mix This, and whooped when Buju was honoured with Me an Oonu.
It was a dancehall ending to the festival, as after Tanto Metro, Spragga Benz foregrounded his lyrical ability in new songs (including a scathing look a brand name clothing), as well as doing older standouts like Peace. He was not afraid to go into sexual matters or to insist on his stage time, which included having Wayne Wonder join him after a delay.
AndrÈ Hugh Sutherland put on a strong showing of well-chosen songs presented with introductions and done with verses, Ravin slotted in with material that often looked at the gritty side of life where "I'm from a place." He repeatedly thanked Tony Rebel for the opportunity and the audience happily accepted Sutherland's offer of "hot grabba".
Ras Moses did his closing duties with glee, the remake of Crazy Baldhead. Blessed and Kette Drum preceding a slew of older 'girls tunes' such as Romie, Ol' Dog, Gal Inna Bungle, Dude and Red Red.
Before Lady G's combination of clever lyric and popular song such as Ease Off and Legal Rights sparked the audience, in the early going Zosia McGregor, Imaru Tafari and Davianah regrouped on stage after individual performances to do their parents' material - Freddie McGregor, Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel, respectively. Sophia Squire followed on the roster. Wickerman went for humour and Chuck Turner served up 1980s dancehall slow-jam covers.
The MCs were Dufton Shepherd, Ron Muschette and Mutabaruka.