Thu | Jun 30, 2022

Ken Boothe, IWaata make Thursday Night ‘Live’

Published:Saturday | May 28, 2022 | 12:40 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
‘Journey’ performing icon Ken Boothe gets lost in the rhythm as he performs the single.
‘Journey’ performing icon Ken Boothe gets lost in the rhythm as he performs the single.
Dean Fraser lets his saxophone do the talking while on stage at 8Rivaz at The Cove Restaurant where Thursday Night Live was held on Thursday.
Dean Fraser lets his saxophone do the talking while on stage at 8Rivaz at The Cove Restaurant where Thursday Night Live was held on Thursday.
IWaata was the picture of a true gentleman performing his dancehall hits in an acoustic format for the Thursday Night Live audience.
IWaata was the picture of a true gentleman performing his dancehall hits in an acoustic format for the Thursday Night Live audience.
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The inaugural staging of Thursday Night Live, held last Thursday at The Cove Restaurant in collaboration with 8Rivaz, featured a dynamic mix of entertainers and provided an intimate live music experience.

Far from the busiest night inside the venue, the general chatter seemed to suggest most came for the headliners, which included prominent saxophonist Dean Fraser, renowned vocalist Ken Boothe and fast-rising dancehall artiste IWaata. Organised by Andre Davy; Latoya McKay of Le’McKay Consultants; Moringa brand professionals, Seana-Kay Smith and Sean Grant and hosted by Shannon-Dale Reid and Jodi ‘The Island Girl’ Tucker, the event saw emerging acts Shanice Sewell and Jah Izreh entertain the audience during the early segment of the show.

As a man who lets his instrument do the talking, Dean Fraser stepped onto the stage a few minutes after Jah Izrehl, and without any words, commanded the attention of the multigenerational audience, and reinforced his iconic status with a scintillating performance which he ended with Bob Marley’s Redemption Song.

The audience did not have to wait too long for the next icon to appear. Bringing his superstar sensibilities to the stage, Ken Boothe was an example of an ever-evolving entertainer who makes room to offer new twists and unexpected moments to patrons. With assistance, he made his way to the stage while singing I Feel Like Daniel and leading into Journey, the title single of his 50th anniversary album, which was released in 2012.

Boothe is still a vocal powerhouse, his simmering timbre in Baby I’m Not Joking, bubbling from tender whispers to rousing romance, his wail strong like a lion’s roar for the finish of When I Fall In Love. At other moments, however, you could notice the toll standing on a stage can take on a singer, detectable from the sweat falling from his face, and the dipping vibrato in The Train Is Coming, Moving Away and Puppet On A String, but all still resonating with those listening intently to him.

The sound of his voice is immense; immediately it becomes clear that the musicians of the band, Aston George Hewitt on guitar, Kerry ‘Gilligan Steamaz’ Dyke taking charge of percussions and Odane Stephens on keyboard, as well as the background vocalists, Ránice Barrett and Danielle Lee, are in a world of their own. Mesmerising as that was, one of the best parts of Boothe’s set was hearing the veteran singer-songwriter reinterpret the hits and the encore of Everything I Own, with more focus placed on the vocals than the live band.

After his performance, Boothe told The Gleaner: “I haven’t been performing as much so, tonight, I am just happy to be here with the people. I can’t stop loving what I do best. I thank God my vocals are still intact. As I sing, I would give everything I own for what I do.”

Though the entertainer did not stay for the rest of the performances, he shared that he was “gratified” to be followed by an act of contrasting bravura that “keeps the energy live”.

HONOURED TO PERFORM

IWaata also shared that he was honoured to perform on the same stage as veterans. Sometimes billed as ‘unplugged’, acoustic performances require an artiste to put their talent on full display by removing the wizardry of backing tracks that the music industry depends on. It is a vulnerable position, but the dancehall deejay known also as ‘Di Play Gad’ was more than primed to deliver a never-before-seen performance.

IWaata’s opening is nothing short of attention-grabbing – young and old faced the stage as the instrumental prelude to Pain chimed in – and was one accompanied by a genuine sense of mystery. It was the most appropriate start to a full acoustic set of dancehall tracks such as Guard, which transitioned into a little dancing with Foot Play, Clip Tall and Yah.

“A normal play… me know whole heap a people did a wonder what this young dancehall youth a do pon the flyer [so] me know the play. I do a lot of performances with band on the show like Sumfest and Sting, but it is not usually an acoustic thing. Me feel great within myself after this especially fi know one elderly lady say she enjoy my set. A so me know me nah do nutn wrong,” IWaata said, adding that the nine hours of rehearsal was worth it.

He added: “Me nuh want to be number one or trending artiste or hot artiste. After four years in the business – since 2019, me nah try look a space up the front but want to be relevant and do great music and give top performances. My brain and music is not young, and fi every type of show or venue setting, we have a different set of music, lyrics and image. It’s about how you present yourself. This was not a pickney audience, a mature people weh deal with music, me like everything about it, all when the singalong starts.”

The movement of the band from in front of their instruments to gather their bags and the dimming of the lights all cued it was time to go home – with a majority of the guests’ thirsts for live entertainment quenched. Nathan Nelms, brand manager for Red Stripe, which endorsed Thursday Night Live, said he was impressed by “the blend of classic with the new” and that the acoustic settings exceeded expectations.

“There was no favourite in my eyes, both Ken Booth and IWaata, whose fans were delighted in seeing him in a different, calmer atmosphere, delivered above and beyond what the audience expected. We look forward to more of these intimate sessions leading up to Reggae Sumfest, where Red Stripe has pledged to highlight upcoming artistes,” Nelms said.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com