13 August 2017
The first party of the 24th edition of Rototom Sunsplash celebrated the immortal force of roots reggae and the African roots of our music and all humanity with four very different shows, but with full effect. We start with two legendary reggae bands from the line-up that graced the Main Stage with almost opposing styles. They were the Jamaicans that emigrated to London, Twinkle Brothers, who had the big responsibility of opening the festival and the Grant brothers reached their objective with essentially one hour fully ranging from emotional rhythms to steppers. They opened with Jah Kingdom Come and an escalating series of classics like Jahovia, Faith can move mountains, Never get burn, a frenetic version of Praise his name y Free Africa, with powerful drums, the bass of Dub Judah and the guitar of Black Steel in furious changes into dub. The “old style” attitude was accentuated by the will of Norman Grant, and we should remember that only recently the band made the podium of 55 years of activity never having drifted away from the spiritual vibration of the purest roots reggae.
From the “oldschool style” of Twinkle Brothers, to a very modern and potent version from Steel Pulse, the band from Birmingham that has been active for over 40 years and have become an emblem of international roots reggae. With the success of their latest tour that celebrated their first album Handsworth revolution still in mind, Steel Pulse offered a set full of jewels of their old repertoire, such as Macka splaff, Babylon makes the rules, Bodyguard y Soldiers, with the solemn sounds from the splendour of the two keyboards and by one guitar close to rock. Behind the frontman David Hinds, with his sunglasses with white frames, helped the camaraderie between the truly impressive musicians. The delivery of Don’t shoot was memorable, dedicated to Michael Brown, the 18 year old who was brutally killed by the American police in 2014, no more or less than Black & proud to take up the classic Studio One real rock again.
The moment of connection with Africa was the exhibition between roots reggae and the melancholic soul of Nkulee Dube, the young daughter of the sadly passed away hero of African Reggae, Lucky Dube: during her performance, Nkulee proved her maturity and kept the memory of her father alive. Besides the references to Lucky’s music, the one who writes this could see some influences of Marcia Griffiths in the melodies of this young South African woman who will have a brilliant future.
The best part of last night came with the Catalan rumba band from Barcelona, La Pegatina, who infected the audience with their revolutionary rhythms. They had a big responsibility and were willing to party: the eight musicians from Barcelona had a lot of energy, they played different styles such as patch anka, rumba and ska. They finished with a powerful scene full of fireworks and confetti.