20 August 2016
From Salento to Austria, the crucial voices of European reggae and also historic Jamaican reggae, on stage with Wailing Souls, Junior Kelly y Beres Hammond
Following the memorable massive crowds of Manu Chao, we kicked off the weekend of passion that closes the festival with a sensation that everything happened almost too quickly.
The opening of the second to last night saw the return of the Sud Sound System, from Salento, Italy, a band that, despite having written the history of reggae in Italy, also contributed to write the history of Rototom Sunsplash following a strong series of fantastic concerts. They recently celebrated their 25th anniversary of their career with a journey to Jamaica, playing shows in some of the hottest dancing spots in Kingstorn. Last night, they demonstrated their top form facing the mostly Italian contingent of the festival, which also included other fans from many different countries. Backed by the band Bag-a-riddim, Don Rico, Terron Fabio and Nandu Popu did everything within their power to entertain the public and hit the target with songs such as Terra mia and Bisogno d’amore, as well as classic hits from their repertoire like Erba libera and Le radici ca tieni. The final tune, Orizzonti, got the whole crown jumping and was definitely a great warm up for the following artists.
This spring, the tour, Rototom & Friends brought with them the atmosphere from other European countries that they visited. The key aim of the concert was that they wanted to recreate the feeling of unity among the musicians from the special nomadic event organised by Rototom. The stage only saw one European band, the Austrian Fireman Band, to supply the music for a series of interesting European and Jamaican artists. The first of these appearances were dedicated to German speaking countries, with Iriepathie from Austria and Jahcoustix from Germany, followed by the Italian Raphael and then Randy Valentine, from England but with Jamaican roots. All of these artists were presented at the tour on different dates, so it would be impossible to speak about all of them in this limited space. The most important thing to say is that all these “reggae soldiers”, together with many others, are those that propel reggae on our continent, each in their own style and that enriches and makes the modern European reggae scene more interesting.
After the Rototom & Friends section, came the legendary Wailing Souls, interpreting songs from their career full of success with their beautiful voices. In their 40 years, they have travelled through different epochs of Jamaican reggae and also had space to host the energetic set from Junior Kelly, the singjay of Love so nice. He combined the tunes that made him famous, like Boom draw, with newer songs from his latest album, appropriately entitled Urban poet.
To close the evening’s proceedings, we witnessed a special moment for this festival: the return of the heart of soul fused in the reggae of Beres Hammond. After a brief demonstration of the musical ability of his Harmony House Band, the veteran Beres entered the stage, immediately making clear his class and going from one hit to another without pause. It’s impossible to recount his entire set list, but the following songs really moved us; Kids play, Come back home, with a reference to Mama Africa by Garnett Silk included, What one dance can do and Full attention, among others. Beres conducted his band like a true orchestra and made good use of the energy coming from the crowd, who warmly received hid role as an interpreter of the human soul, until the end of his truly memorable show. Further highlights include I feel good, They gonna talk and Rock away, which the public were especially thankful for, a song which evokes the golden age of black music and at the time was a hymn of hope for the new generations of artists that return us to the levels of intensity comparable to those time. Judging by the new talent we have seen at this festival, today this home seems entirely well founded.