Kes The Band rocks Tuesday On The Rock
If Kes The Band intended to prove the power of soca by introducing a new element of live bands, multiple genres and satisfied revellers to the Jamaican carnival season, then they succeeded.
For the inaugural instalment of Tuesday On The Rock in Jamaica, they delivered a multicultural experience, as they rolled out flavours of dancehall and reggae into a presentation that kept the crowd jumping, wining, waving rags and flags, and shouting lyrics word for word.
Last Tuesday night at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Kes The Band stepped into a pocket left empty since the passing of the iconic Byron Lee, bringing back the live music element to local carnival celebrations with a full-bodied performance. Like the non-stop energy of people propelling themselves through the streets of Kingston or towards the Savannah, Kes The Band offered up a seamless performance, loaded with soca smashes, dancehall hits and even some reggae classics.
Though gates opened one hour behind schedule, the venue filled up quickly with patrons ranging from teens in tiny shorts to retirees, lounging on fold-out chairs before show time. But this was not a concert to sit through.
Kes The Band took the stage at 11pm, kicking off their consistently high-energy set with the instant classic Savannah Grass. Kees and his brothers hopped happily across the stage—recreating their dance from the nostalgia-inducing music video. After opening with the beloved song, they kept the pace. Kees buffeted from the left of the stage to the right, tirelessly belting out current and older jams like I Shall Return, Million, Nah Let Go, Endless Summer and the breakout hit Wotless.
They even visited hits of their colleagues - bringing waistlines to whine with a cover of Patrice Robert’s I Like It, and raising hands and flags for Feteland (in the absence of Kerwin DuBois).
Some patrons lauded the musicianship of the band, as they jumped with their instruments, in sync with the bouncing audience. Demonstrating talent, skill and years of practice, the band’s presentation was impeccable, with transitions from one song to the next as smooth as hearing a disc jockey spinning from tune to tune on a laptop.
In the midst of this, the band played a bit for the home crowd - rolling dancehall into their performance. Kees ventured into the genre, calling out rising star Teejay and singing the chorus of the wildly popular, Up Top Boss.
The band also invited dancehall star Shenseea to the stage. Despite her vocals not being 100 percent, the Loodi singer did her best to duet with Kees on their Close To Me collaboration. As expected, she performed the Shenyeng Anthem, to the delight of the already riled audience. Bigger still, the band shared the stage with other local performing favourites Konshens and Munga Honorable, who brought the house down with Nah Mad Ova.
Homage was paid to reggae too, with Kees covering undying hits like Love You In Every Way by Buju Banton and Wayne Wonder and Dry Cry by Sizzla. Kees gave more nods to the Gargamel, performing a solid cover of Walk Like A Champion, complete with an imitation of Banton’s signature growling tone.