Tosh fans stand up for food rights - No re-entry at tribute concert leaves many hungry
On Saturday night, friends, family and fans of the late great Peter Tosh gathered for a star-studded concert experience at the Pulse Complex, Trafalgar Road, New Kingston, in celebration of the staunch cannabis advocate's birthday. Now in its third year, the annual tribute concert still appears to suffer some growing pains.
Upon entry, all patrons were greeted with the stern 'no re-entry' policy, which to many persons' dismay, was just as sternly enforced. VIP patrons and performers were issued armbands that allowed re-entry through a separate entrance/exit point, while regular patrons retained a ticket stub.
During that intermission, a crowd of confused persons bundled by the entrance in search of food. All were hesitant to go outside, lest they not be let back in. A patron named Winston was collected enough to share his troubles. "I'm here from Florida. I drove from Manchester to come here, and I can't get anything to eat. I've been here since 6 o'clock. I've had nothing to eat. I've been drinking. They sell liquor, but they don't sell food. The food is outside, so how can I get the food?" Winston demanded. He had taken his girlfriend to the concert and was prepared to accept the penalty of no re-entry, but his lady was on the inside waiting for Jah Cure to take the stage.
"I can't go out and come back in. That's crazy. This is my first time here. It'll be my last, too," Winston said.
Among the complainers was prolific session musician, arranger, producer and composer Clive Hunt. "I pay $20,000 for me and some guests, and I'm a prisoner. They say I can't leave. It's ridiculous. I feel bad. I carry my family from the country to come here. And they tell me say me can't go back out?" he said.
There were also a few on-stage hiccups. According to Hunt's professional ears, an overpowering hum in the speakers distracted from the music. "I like the concept, but they need to coordinate with people who are real professionals, not just put on a show for the sake of it. There are a lot of people who have the resources and the contacts to put on events like this, but they don't do the proper research," he said. Hunt also opined that the half-hour set for each act was too long.
Backlit by a fantastically kaleidoscopic LED screen, the stage was attractive. It was choked with a full band of musicians, complete with a horn and woodwind section. Nevertheless, emcee Copeland Forbes occupied centre stage for extended periods, regaling the audience with his memories of the Stepping Razor to placate them as they shifted from leg to leg waiting for the next act or a belatedly arriving musician.
Though Forbes tried to be a soothing presence, he elicited impatient applause from the standing, uncomfortable audience.
Despite the discontent, the concert stage offered redemptive moments. "The concert is needed because Peter Tosh isn't being celebrated as much as he should be. He's as much a part of reggae as Bob Marley. To me, they stand on the same ground; the same two of three columns inna it. Him deserve recognition as well," Dre Tosh said. He opened his performance dancing happily across the stage with a rendition of his grandfather's classic jam, Coming In Hot.
During his set, the legacy act performed his latest song, Sweet Country. It will be the young artiste's promotional centrepiece heading into Reggae Month 2019 next February. "Jamaica needs another beautiful Jamaican song, so me a get it!" Dre Tosh said.
Singer and dub-poetess Jah9 followed, sustaining Tosh's advocate spirit. "We're here to celebrate a great man, an advocate of the ganja. Let me see all my ganja people. Don't shame! Not because is uptown people place," she said to introduce Steamers A Bubble. The Royal One Jesse Royal similarly celebrated cannabis advocacy during his set. "Blood, sweat and tears inna dis. There's no other place I'd rather be on a night like this. Peter Tosh, we love you. Thank you for all you've done," he said before launching into his 2015 release Finally.
This year's Stepping Razor awardee, Bushman, was a highlight performer, along with reggae songstress Etana ,who covered Buk-in-Hamm Palace alongside Andrew Tosh. After showing his reverence with a cover of Stepping Razor, Chris Martin delivered a solid set featuring familiar hits like Mama and I'm A Big Deal. A subdued Jah Cure had the audience coolly swaying to That Girl, Longing For and Call On Me.
Dancehall act Rygin King was the penultimate performer of the night, while Luciano closed the show. Peter Tosh was born on October 19, 1944.