Adrian Frater, News Editor
I-Octane, arguably dancehall's hottest property at this time, justified the decision to have him close Thursday night's Dancehall Night segment of Reggae Sumfest 2013 when he delivered a blazing performance which would have made many seasoned veterans proud.
With the vast majority of the crowd holding its ground at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Centre, Montego Bay, expectations were high when the classy lyricist hit centre stage at 5:53 a.m.
He proceeded to rule supreme, stamping his authority on songs like, Mama You Alone, Lose A Friend, Love The Vibe and Real Talk, which were delivered against a backdrop of booming firecrackers.
The performance was given an extra burst of energy when Bounty Killer, who many felt gave the performance of the night in his own set, joined him on stage and together they delivered the songs, Bad Mind Dem a Pre, Cyaa Test The General and Double Trouble.
However, it became a cloud-nine experience when he belted out crowd favourites, Gal A Gimme Bun and Missing You, which had the large crowd in a screaming frenzy.
Unlike his recent performance at Western Consciousness, where he was relaxed and jovial, Bounty Killer was cross, angry and miserable when he took the stage.
He lashed out against the proposal to send artistes to prison for gun lyrics and blasted the subtle invasion of homosexuality on the Jamaican culture.
After openly inviting Education Minister Ronald Thwaites to visit YouTube and listen to the lyrics in his song, Book, Book, Book, for which he said he got very little or no credit, the dancehall giant proceeded to dazzle with songs like Nah Stray, Warlord Nuh Business, Amazing - a new song talking about the state of the economy; Look Into My Eyes and Originality.
The interest of the fans was piqued when Deewaan, an English-based artiste of Indian descent, who flew in from England to do a collaboration he recorded with Bounty Killer, took the stage. Deewaan made quite an impact, both when he belted out the lyrics of the song titled, Running, as well as when he showed off his prowess on the drums.
The veteran Beenie Man and the increasingly popular Aidonia, who performed in the late slot alongside I-Octane and Bounty Killer, also did themselves proud with fairly decent sets.
As usual, Beenie Man delivered for the girls while Aidonia really enjoyed himself. When he wasn't dancing up a storm with an English woman, Aidonia was in fine fettle on songs like Tan Tuddy and Tip Pon Yu Toe.Hometown boy Tommy Lee Sparta showed much maturity and lyrical creativity in a polished performance, which naturally went down well with the fans.
His predominantly black outfit, which was completed with a mask and a cape, added much sparkle to his performance which was ably supported by several female singers.
The lanky Gaza man, who reportedly became the favourite 'son' of incarcerated Vybz Kartel, was at his dazzling best on songs like, Money Maker, PÉ. Mechanic, Psycho, Angels, Crazy and Shoot.
The female dancehall stars were not to be outdone, especially the veteran Lady Saw, who claimed it would be her last Dancehall Night performance at Reggae Sumfest because of her decision to answer God's call to move away from secular music.
Lady Saw, dressed in a seductively clad silver and purple get-up, allowed Rosie, whose recent hilarious television interview was transformed into a catchy song, a few minutes of fame.
The compelling Queen of the Dancehall also sported a rebellious-looking hairstyle with the words 'Queen' and 'Muma' shaved on both sides of her head.
With her dancehall compatriot Macka Diamond and her former live-in lover John John in her lyrical cross hairs, Lady Saw gave her fans the kind of lyrical send-off they are unlikely to forget in a hurry. Songs like It's Raining, Eh Em, This Good, Beat Dem Already and A Wha Do Some Gal, Two Men In My Life and Chat To Me Back, all figured in the tongue-lashing she delivered.
As usual, she was quite provocative with the musicians and enjoyed a raunchy display with a white male visitor, whom she invited onstage to play out Heels On - much to the delight of the fans, who kept urging her along.
Spice, Lady Saw's heir apparent; and Macka Diamond, both gave impressive sets, showing the women were quite capable of matching the men lyrically.
While Spice was most creative, rolling out to centre stage in a giant balloon in a dazzling silver outfit which matched her heels, Macka Diamond was a picture of vigour, bubbling her way into the hearts of the fans.
Spice's performance all but brought the house down when a Vybz Kartel lookalike was led on stage in handcuffs and proceeded to do the provocative Ramping Shop.
Among the other acts to excel were the humorous KipRich, who was ably matched in a tantalising lyrical duel with a uniform policeman; the cultural I-Wayne, the lyrically smooth QQ, the exciting RDX, a mature-sounding Bugle, the astute Assassin, and the very composed Blade Screamer. QQ and Assassin were especially good.
Acts such as Mikey Ranks, Alkaline, Payne, Baby Tash and DI (Danielle), who performed in the early stages when the venue was not yet full, did well, generating solid responses and adding significantly to their performance resumés.