Gong Fest at Reggae Sumfest
While it was Damian 'Junior Gong' Marley who was celebrating a birthday, he was the one who left all those at the closing night of Reggae Sumfest 2018 with a musical gift.
The 2017 Reggae Grammy winner worked like an inspired man, digging generously into his own catalogue while also evoking memories of his famous father - King of Reggae, Bob Marley. As he sang and danced to his heart's content, the son of the legend, who came off a tour in Europe to perform at Reggae Sumfest, made it clear that "there is no place like home."
He sent the fans into a screaming and dancing frenzy with his popular 'anthem', Welcome to Jamrock, and his performance of Medication made the audience 'high'.
In reflecting on his journey to age 40, the lanky 'Gongzilla' paid tribute to his parents for giving him the life he now enjoys. "My parents worked hard for me to have a good life," said Marley, whose own son, Elijah, stole the hearts of many patrons when he strolled centre stage and gave his dad a lyrical gift - singing Stevie Wonder's monster hit, I Just Call To Say I Love You, which had his dad clearly bemused, and his grandmother - former Miss World Cindy Breakspeare - singing along from side stage, beaming with pride.
Intent on giving patrons a lyrical gift, Junior Gong made light of his birthday, declaring, "me put it off till next year," when joining him on stage Kabaka Pyramid told the crowd that, "he celebrated his birthday yesterday (Saturday) and I want you to say happy birthday to the 'Gongzilla."
The singer ended his set with a playful exchange with his son, who had returned to the stage to dance up a storm during the delivery of Welcome to Jamrock. As he ran across the stage, his dad playfully chased him, much to the delight of the fans. When finally caught, father and son laughed heartily as they hugged each other.
True to his fan-given moniker, Gongzilla smashed and trampled expectations, leaving Montego Bay in the blissful aftermath of his musical destruction.
Responses to Junior Gong's performance
"What a man ... what a performance," remarked radio personality Denise 'Isis' Miller, who was clearly moved by the performance.
Dr Sonja Niaah: "We have not begun to see the best of Junior Gong. He understands himself and the crowd in a very, very unique way. In so many ways he is already legendary. He recognises that he is part of an empire, whether he is speaking or on a stage."
Professor Donna Hope: "Damian's performance was impressive, stellar. He always delivers. His son giving him that tribute for his birthday was simply awesome."