Massive Marley party in Emancipation Park
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
After sizing up the crowd at Emancipation Park, New Kingston, on Sunday night for Bob Marley's 67th birthday concert, Ibo Cooper made an appeal for the creation of a space where people can be accommodated to listen to music.
"We need a space," Cooper, chairman of the Jamaica Recording Industry Association (JaRIA) and host of the concert, said. That space should be a covered auditorium that can hold 5,000 people.
There was no official count given of the number of persons in the park, but the audience for the Bob Marley Foundation and Digicel event far exceeded the number of chairs put out, with many persons choosing to stand on the grass beyond the main pathway running past the fountain which dominates the centre of the park.
With the official line-up including Romain Virgo, Uprising Roots, Chronixx, Alaine, Protoje and Jermaine Edwards, Judy Mowatt was on stage at 7 p.m. The audience got consistent quality at the free event.
"This is what Brother Bob Marley would sing to the sisters," Mowatt said, doing No Woman No Cry. She kept in the Wailers catalogue with Thank You Lord, describing Marley as "a visionary, a teacher, a man filled with love for his people".
Mowatt noted the many technological advancements which have been made but asking, "Are we loving each other as we should?"
Many Are Called was given the 'pull up' treatment, the song closing with a rapid-fire delivery which the audience appreciated.
Band changes were handled swiftly. Ruff Kut (which did the bulk of the night's support duties) making way for Step By Step. And when Cocoa Tea stepped up, with his mix of original roots-reggae songs flowing into R&B favourites on the same rhythm and his special ability to sing information to the audience in the same melody as an original song, it was a cracker.
His standard entry, the traditional Rastafari song recorded by the Wailers as Rastaman Chant, was a hit from the get go, Cocoa Tea crooning "free up the man", because he wants to see him as a national hero. He moved from his own Israel's King to Marley's One Drop and again the audience sounded its approval.
There were many more moments to howl for in Cocoa Tea's performance, his striking, yet not piercing, voice carrying through clearly.
Love Me Truly was given a touch of the Shabba deejay section; when he sang "a lot of girls nah get no loving tonight". There were a flurry of cheers. She Loves Me Now took the house down and there was a touch of Sam Cooke to back it up. Air Supply was put into the mix by the time Cocoa Tea ended.
Riding on a wave of popular songs over the past two years, as is the tendency of the generation closer to deejaying than singing, I-Octane delivered in markedly different fashion than his musical elders - the songs not done in full. It worked well with the audience, which agreed that man should not play in another's natty, related to the hard times sentiment of My Life and the 'bad mind' lessons of several songs.
Mama You Alone went over well, but he could have done a better job on the lyrics of No Woman No Cry. Lose a Friend turned up the musical heat in Emancipation Park and I-Octane closed with Burn Them Bridge before a very brief recall to the stage.
The evening closed - ahead of the scheduled 9 p.m. end - with the steady rocking of Big Ship captain Freddie McGregor, occasionally peaking into a substantial wave that moved the audience. One of the latter was Prophecy, another was Loving Pauper, and Love Fever also got home to the audience in an especially big way.
And So I Will Wait For You, started without music, tugged at the lips of the R&B loving Jamaican audience.
McGregor honoured Bob Marley with Nice Time, closing off the live performances on a strong note with Don't Hurt My Feelings.