Wednesday night began in a very special way with the beautiful concert by Clinton Fearon & The Riddim Source, a kind of preview of what will happen next monday with the return to the Rototom Sunsplash of the legendary Burning Spear.

In addition to being an active member of the group and bassist in live performances, Clinton also had an extensive experience in the Jamaican studios in the 1970s, most notably as a bassist at Lee Scratch Perry‘s Black Ark studios and in Studio One. After leaving the Gladiators in the 1980s, Clinton moved to the United States, where he began a fruitful solo adventure that, however, bears clear similarities with the music of his historic old group and other great Jamaican roots bands, like Joseph Hill’s Culture.

 

Clinton is going through a great creative moment, highlighted by his excellent latest album, ‘Breaking News’. And this concert was an absolute testimony of this. The great quality of his Riddim Source band was clear from the very first notes, with a great collective amalgamation and a tight rhythm section, with an excellent percussionist who can also play the trumpet if necessary. 

 

Clinton came out on stage dressed in white and immediately unleashed his beautiful, soulful voice. The backbone of the concert was made up largely of the new songs from the excellent ‘Breaking News’ album, but also other classics from his solo repertoire, and a beautiful reference to Gladiators with ‘Chatty Chatty Mouth’. Playing percussion at times, Clinton also did a duet with his musicians, exhibiting a jazzy ‘scat’ that sometimes reminded us of the great vocal energy of Toots Hibbert, the historic leader of The Maytals.

 

The communication with the audience also worked wonderfully. The front rows sang the lyrics in unison, a sign of the large number of admirers that Clinton has in Europe. We will certainly remember this show for a long time.

 

A decisive turnaround came after Clinton Fearon, with the performance of French artist Blaiz Fyah. Born in Paris but based in London, Blaiz has proven on his five albums that he is part of the European dancehall excellence. The sensual movements of two dancers, whose torches of fire recalled the name of this artist and the fire that burns in the hottest moments of the dance halls, were responsible for introducing his short but very intense set.

 

Blaiz Fyah performed songs from his last two albums, ‘Mad Ting’ and ‘Mad Ting 2’, accompanied by a DJ and a drummer. The great energy he exuded literally unleashed the many dancehall fans present at the festival.

 

The presence of the guiding spirit of Bob Marley flew over these first two days of the festival through the presence of his sons Damian and Julian. It was Julian himself who, after appearing on stage yesterday joining the Skatalites and doing a duet with Damian, starred in an intense live show that unfortunately closed the festival earlier than expected. Compared to his brother Damian, Julian‘s approach is more traditionally roots & culture and his similarity in movements on stage to his father’s Bob is frankly striking. Despite starting composing and recording music at a young age, Julian has five albums released in the time period between 1996 and 2019. 

 

The set list of the concert alternated songs from the early days, especially ‘Lion In The Morning’, as well as songs from the latest album, like ‘As I Am’ from 2019. We were also particularly impressed by a beautiful interpretation of ‘Violence In The Streets’ from the ‘Awake’ album.

The concert was very vibrant and full of classics from Julian’s father’s repertoire, like ‘Natty Dread’, ‘Zimbabwe’ and ‘Exodus’ that moved a large audience, especially during Julian‘s frequent dance moments in which he really sounded like his father.

Due to a wind storm during the last part of the concert, it was decided to suspend all the shows in the programme, in order to guarantee everyone’s safety.