15 August 2017
The third night of Sunsplash 2017 witnessed the sounds of different periods of the Jamaican tradition, which prepared the way for the highly anticipated arrival of The Specials; heroes of the first generation of ska revival from the late 70’s. The beginning of the night was made memorable by the hand of the Jamaican project, Inna De Yard: the combination being made up by the veterans Kiddus I, Winston McAnuff and Cedric Myton of The Congos, who were joined by younger artists like Var and Kush. They continued the tradition of the heartful notes of acoustic reggae with nyabinghi drums of rasta celebrations, marking the rhythm for stringed instruments and wonderful vocal patterns.
The latest work from this fascinating collective is their super-hit Soul of Jamaica, the album which clearly formed the skeleton for their show, which brought the magic natural sounds of reggae to the festival. In addition to the songs from the album, we enjoyed listening to acoustic covers of great classics like Row fisherman from the Congos, Graduation in Zion from Kiddus I and Malcolm X from Winston McAnuff. These legendary singers rivaled in intensity with the younger Kush and Var in a truly special occasion and really enjoyed by the crowd. Before The Specials arrived, the vibrant New Kingston Band took to the stage to substitute the French group Sinsemilla at the last minute, as did the living roots reggae legend, Don Carlos, making his debut on stage.
Driven on by his potent band, the singer that originated in the turbulent neighbourhood of Waterhouse, in Kingston, sang a series of personal super-hits, from Natty Dread have him credentials, to pure fire tracks like Laser beam, Hog & goat, and Rootsman party in his authentic vocal style. He owned the stage in his silver jacket, moving elegantly and dancing along to the killer dub tempos of his band. With this superb performance, the festival has added to its book another truly important name in the history of reggae.
Finally, the long-awaited moment came for all the ska-lovers: The Specials began with the dreamy Ghost town and continued with an emotional interpretation of Do nothing. Of the original band, only the singer Terry Hall, the bassist Horace Panther and the guitarist Linval Golding remained, however it was a pleasant surprise to see two great violinists on the screen. Nobody would have expected a cover of Bob Marley’s Redemption song from the Coventry band, although equally, they didn’t miss the classics from their repertoire, from the smooth song, Gangsters, continuing at different speeds and dance steps with Little bitch, Do the dog, It doesn’t make it all right, Too much too young, and Dawning of a new era. Their explosive version of Monkey man, reminded us that tomorrow, Toots Hibbert and his Maytals are coming. The grand finale was Enjoy yourself, a version of Guns of Navarone by the Skatalites and You’re wondering now, which used up all the energy of even the youngest there, but leaving everyone (including the members of The Specials) very satisfied.
“We Are Africa, Rototom is Africa!” celebrates Likle Mystic from the Lion Stage. Day 3
The Lion Stage welcomed the ambassadors of African reggae, an enthusiastic Turbulence, an adorable Pierre Nesta and also, an exceptional Likle Mystic, A4 Orchestra and Dj Funky Moskito.
As already promised, the Ethnopian Reggae Ambassadors returned to the Lion Stage, this time with a varied and energetic 2-hour repertoire, full of African and equatorial sounds, that will keep them in the hearts of the audience. As soon as the night started, the crowd were already fully warmed up.
The second band to get up on stage was A4 Orchestra, who were really enthusiastic and had a powerful presence on stage. Many people’s attention was focussed on the acoustic singer, Pierre Nesta, with his street reggae, songs composed on the road and some great covers, rose to the Lion Stage to present his latest work. The crowd gathered around him and he felt the love sent by many fans, responding with big smiles and words in French, English and Spanish.
An important moment in edition number 24 will surely be remembered as the appearance of Turbulence on the Lion Stage. The massive crowded around the stage and were lucky to be a part of the explosive show, which featured a variety of changes in sound, worthy of the great professionals: from new roots, ragga muffin, as well as new versions of classic tracks, such as Blood dem out and Notorious. For the third night in a row, it was perfect; it marked the Lion Stage as being an important meeting place, full of art, unforgettable fun, and constant growth in every direction.
Following the great spectacle of the second night, we came back to close the line-up for the day with Rubera Roots, blessing us this time with the present of the veteran Jamaica, Lickle Mystic; a historian and preacher, whose unmistakable voice and conscious songs made us remember that “we are Africa”, Rototom is Africa. It was a classic interpretation of solid and deep roots that accompanied the massive into a new day, singing and dancing.