June 25, 2014

By Michael Barnett, Senior Entertainment Reporter …..

Photos by Gail Zucker

The 2014  installment of  the Annual Best of the Best Reggae Concert succeeded in maintaining this Show’s Status as South Florida’s Number one Reggae Concert.

Barrington Levy - Best of the Best 2014On Sunday, May 25, 2014, (Memorial Day Weekend), all roads led to South Florida’s biggest and best Reggae Concert/Festival. This turned out to be a show for true lovers of Caribbean music. There was something for everyone so far as Caribbean music went; (i.e Reggae, Dancehall,. Soca and Calypso.

Yours truly got to the show somewhat late this year, but early enough to catch most of the headline acts on the show. Barrington Levy was performing on the stage when I entered the venue, and what a performance he gave. He performed songs such as ‘Rosie,’ ‘Black Roses,’ ‘Broader Than Broadway,’ ‘Too Experienced,’ and ‘Murderer.’

Next up after Barrington Levy’s tantalizing performance was the indomitable Beres Hammond. As has come to be expected, Beres gave a sterling performance. He has got to be one of Jamaica’s most consistent Reggae artists ever. He notably had the crowd eating out of his hands about 10 minutes into his act, especially the women. With his silky smooth and intensely soulful vocals, Beres may well have topped Barrington Levy’s captivating performance, which is no small feat I can tell you.Beres Hammond - Best of the Best 2014

After Beres came Tarrus Riley and the Black Soil Band, (who are certainly no strangers to South Florida. Commendably, Tarrus was able to maintain the momentum that Barrington Levy and Beres Hammond had provided for the show. Tarrus has been able to distinguish himself as one of the most talented Reggae performers of the younger generation, arguably over-shadowing his father, the legendary Jimmy Riley. (Something few of the new crop of Reggae artists have been able to do.) Chronixx, an artist that arguably belongs to another generation cycle of Reggae artists, can be placed in this elite category, clearly over-shadowing and out-doing his father, the Dancehall DJ, Chronicle.

Chronixx_Best of the Best Concert 2014Chronixx who was performing for just the second time in the United States, having made his US debut just a couple of days earlier in California, did not disappoint. This artist has developed such a relatively immense catalogue of hot singles, over a short period of time, he still hadn’t performed all of his hit tunes when his set of 45 minutes was over.

After Chronixx left the stage I looked at my watch and realized that there was only 40 minutes left before the midnight curfew. The artists that were left to perform at that point in time were Bugle, Elephant Man and Beenie Man. It seemed clear that the promoters had arranged the show such that the last segment was a solid Dancehall one, ensuring that the show finished on a high energy vibe. This suggested a well thought through running order by the promoters.  (My only apprehension at the time was the short amount of time that was now left for this Dancehall segment.)

Bugle was the first artist to perform in the clearly dancehall oriented last BOTB13 BeenieMsegment of the show, and it looked like he was going to take up all the remaining time, until the stage savvy Beenie Man ran onto the stage, (with Bugle still performing), with only 12 minutes remaining till curfew. Beenie Man’s appearance on stage whipped the audience up into a frenzy, and Bugle taking a cue slipped away inconspicuously backstage. Now, with the spotlight solely on him Beenie took full advantage belting out short excerpts of some of his hit tunes. Demonstrating once more just how much of a seasoned entertainer he is, Beenie had the crowd highly animated, right up to the stroke of midnight, at which time the power to the stage equipment was cut, right in the middle of the performance of a hit song, and the artist’s voice could no longer be heard.. Seemingly undeterred, and ever the show-man, the doctor (aka Beenie Man), delighted the crowd for another five minutes with some  enthralling dance-moves, (without music), before finally walking off stage. Disappointingly, Elephant Man, (who I heard was backstage right up until the midnight curfew), did not perform.

Overall, Best of the Best 2014, was another memorable installment for what has now come to be an eight year run of Reggae euphoria. However, I think that the promoters need to pay more attention to the vexing issue of time management for next year’s show. Especially if they are going to maximize the performance impact of all of the fantastic artists that they book for this now highly venerated Reggae calendar event.

All said and done though, Best of the Best 2014, has been the best reggae concert of the year so far as South Florida is concerned.