14 August 2017
The impetuous force of afrobeat, the fundamentals of Jamaican music and the extravagance of dancehall were ingredients for another great night in the Rototom Sunsplash. On his debut at the festival, Seun Kuti set no limits, full to brim of good vibes, and the enthusiasm of our peace-loving strength.
From his father, Fela, he inherited: his undeniable musical talent, as well as his considerable honesty and ingenuity, and his will to fight for the same ideals. Through the day, which started with his grand entrance at the Reggae University, the young artist reiterated the need for a united Africa. Born from this, he discussed how the music derived from Africa, such as jazz, reggae, afrobeat and hip-hop. Also, he addressed the fact that the dominance of American culture is a plague that has contributed to the weakening of calls for unity and emancipation. He noted further that emancipation is underway in a much less bloody way than the colonists, so to speak, but way more subtle and insidious.
On stage, Seun is a shaman who dominates and transmits the mind blowing energy of Egypt 80. Their drums and bass are the beating hearts of Afrobeat that set the pace for the royal sound of the wind instruments and the power of the sax. Facing the masses, Seun walks, jumps and dances as he is motioning to them. With his hands raised marvelously, in salute to the miraculous energy set off by his sound. He plays his keys, leads the way and gives time to his musicians. Meanwhile, a great dancer puts the final touch to the performance with her fantastic moves.
The spirit of his father Fela came to us through his son’s covers of songs like Expensive shit. Then with Seun’s own beautiful compositions, among those that stood out are African smoke and Struggle sounds. Preceding the explosion of Seun’s music, the night had started with the orginal rocksteady and ska of the Heptones and of the Silvertones, followed onto stage by Mango Wood from Madrid. First came the three Heptones, lead by their founding member Earl Morgan, who selected classics from their repertoire on Studio One like Party time, Fattie fattie, Get in the groove, Pretty looks isn’t all and Equal rights. As a last note they pumped it up to the maximum for Book of rules and I shall be released.
Coming up to fifty years since the forming of the band, it is logical that the voices no longer have the same power as some years ago. Yet their passion and technique takes us back to the magic of a past age. The same could be said for the Silvertones, who came onto stage with their elegant silver jackets. A great start with a cover of Midnight hour by Wilson Pickett, followed by energetic parts of Jamaican rhythm, soul and classics like True confession, It’s real and Smile. All of which closed with a finale completely dedicated to rhythm & blues. The night drew to a close with dances and a combination of professionalism and enthusiasm from Shaggy, well regarded for his ability to never take anything too seriously.
In spite of his 25 years in music, Shaggy arrived here to show that he is still regarded as the king of dancehall. He kicked off his concert by displaying his gift for creating hits such as Boombastic, Summertime y Oh Carolina, allowing him to get the public going as well as culminating with a magnificent rendering of It wasn’t me.
An unforgettable night on the Lion Stage. Day 2
Following the massive first night on the Lion Stage, the same was repeated again, together with a huge crowd in front of the Lion Stage.
Loyal and passionate music lovers gathered around the Lion Stage for music that was well played, expressed and transmitted. They formed a part of an evening, together with the Afro-Spaniard, Marga Mbander and her exceptional band, as well as Malaka Youth from Spain, Patois Brothers from Italy, Panda Dub from France, KushArt from Jamaica and the friends from Cape Verde, Rubera Roots. They all transmitted their sounds, dances, noise, experiments and choruses with mastery, enthusiasm and experience.
Marga Mbande, who is the MC of the Main Stage of Rototom 2017, opened the night, standing out for her afrobeat sounds and the public immediately understood that they had arrived at the area at the opportune moment. The Patois Brothers, with their “made in Italy” roots reggae, demonstrated their rapid musical growth in fertile ground of the Venetian lagoons. They were really welcomed by the crowd at the Lion Stage. It won’t be long till we hear more talk of them.
Panda Dub had a huge turn out with many French people in attendance. The show was immense, passionately performed digital dub of the highest quality. Looking out from Lion Stage, the point where the crowd ended couldn’t be seen. The same was true for Malaka Youth, a great confirmation for Rototom. Their new works have already won over the hearts of the Spanish. The veterans KushArt brought their elegant and mature roots, charged with history and their tunes made the whole area dance.
Another band that couldn’t be faulted this year on the Lion Stage were Rubera Roots, who demonstrated how much they’ve grown since they played for us two edition ago. It was a well rounded and pleasant part session which played out until the sun rose in the skies above Rototom Sunsplash
Translated by Lewis Allen