Virgo shines with the brightest - Legend holds Jazz crowd in awe
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
Neo-soul singer John Legend and the new voice of Jamaica, Romain 'The System' Virgo, were the game changers on the closing night of the Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival 2013.
Saturday night's crowd was bigger than Friday's and doubled Thursday's turn out, a carte blanche that the festival had far surpassed the acts billed to perform each year.
Legend, seated on a stool stringing away note after note on his piano, had what many would consider the best seat in the house, overlooking the grounds of the Trelawny Multi-purpose Stadium, near Florence Hall, Trelawny, and he used it to his advantage.
With one intention in mind, Legend came to entertain, and for 'brawta' he brought Jamaica's Gramps Morgan and Tarrus Riley.
Not his first time on the Jamaica Jazz and Blues stage, Legend, one of the repeaters in the 2013 line-up, never even had to open his mouth to sing a note, as soon as his fingers touched the keys on his piano, his fans pre-empted his next move and chorused each word.
Dapperly dressed in a black suit, Legend burned hot, and even then he wasn't even sweating.
Indeed, his fans were the ones dripping with love and adoration. At least one placard-bearing woman was seen showing him some love and three youngsters, two 14-year-olds and a 16-year-old, had his name temporarily tattooed in their hands.
"I love you, John," said one of the messages, "Touch Me," said another and "I am Speechless," concluded the third writing.
It was all about John, and he knew it. Legend did his homework, by pulling for Gramps Morgan, a "master move," said many in the audience. This proved to be true when they both belted, The Lord's Prayer.
The winning combination saw Morgan paying tribute to imprisoned reggae prince, Buju Banton. "If Buju was here tonight, he would say 'Goodness and Mercy Shall Follow Me, All the Days of My Life'," sang Morgan from, a line in Buju's song, a rendition from Psalm 23.
When Legend pulled for Riley, singing I Will Stay With You, he had the audience in his corner and by the time he touched on Ordinary People, it became even more pronounced that he had stolen the show from his international counterparts.
The only person he had to surpass was Jamaica's Romain Virgo.
Virgo, sweated profusely in a set that separated him from the pack. Within minutes on stage, it was obvious he would be flying the Jamaican flag high. The former Digicel Rising Star, had risen to greater heights, featuring hits, including I Know Better, I Am Rich In Love, The System and Fired Up Inside from his new album.
With versatility to the core, it was a mature Virgo, who belted Percy Sledge's When a Man Loves a Woman and made passionate love to Al Green's Let's Get it On.
By the time he got to that song, he was forced to remove his jacket.
As the sweat dripped from his brow, it was clear - Virgo had made his country proud.
Virgo's performance was followed by Monica, who jammed with the audience, but failed to get the respect she deserved because of the unfamiliar songs she sung.
Monica wouldn't leave the Jazz stage until she paid tribute to her friend the late woman of soul, Whitney Houston.
Dionne Warwick, who many came out to see, could have done far better with a smaller and more intimate audience. Warwick, however, came the closest to offering anything resembling jazz and blues. In fact, Warwick epitomised jazz.
Her set seemed to have been affected by sound problems, as many in the back could hardly hear what she was singing.
"It's out of respect that we are here, owing to the illustrious career and the fact that we know every word of every song she is singing tonight," declared a fan.
When Warwick sang Do You Know The Way To San José, she could easily have been in a jazz lounge in San José, California, where she was born.
The 73-year-old icon was a smooth operator as she slow jammed to Jeffrey Lewis on drums, Wayne Shorts on bass, Todd Hunter on keyboards and Rob Schirak on piano.
"I have travelled with this band all over the world," said Warwick, who is celebrating 50 years in the business.
It took, KC and the Sunshine Band to bring back some energy and electricity into the Trelawny stadium, as they danced, laughed and humoured the audience at 1 a.m. yesterday.
"This is what Justin Timberlake will look like in 50 years," quipped KC, who has a small paunch and inches around his body.
Enjoying the time of his life on stage, he gave a sneak preview to the youngsters in the audience telling them, he was the N'Sync of their parents.
Taking the show to the apex, 62-year-old KC and his younger Sunshine Band, promised fun and they delivered.