Best of the Best Music Fest Pre 10th Anniversary Year End Review
By Michael Barnett, Senior Entertainment Reporter
Looking back at the outstanding 9th Anniversary Music Fest as we get ready for the spectacular 10th Anniversary.
Just when I thought that this reggae-centric concert series couldn’t possibly sustain its depth and its quality for yet another year, I have been proven wrong yet again. On the back of last year’s Best of the Best Concert, (which featured artistes such as: Barrington Levy, Tarrus Riley, Beres Hammond, Chronixx and Beenie Man), we were treated to the delights of Sanchez, Wayne Wonder, Morgan Heritage, Warrior King, Johnny P, Tiger and Josey Wales, not to mention Capleton and Shabba-Ranks, just to name some of the artistes who appeared on the bill.
Memorable performances, for yours truly, during the earlier segment of the show was an outstanding performance by Morgan Heritage, who put on their usually consistent well packaged line up of songs, as well as the highly energetic and veritable Warrior King, with hit tunes like – “Virtuous Woman”, “Never go Where Pagans Go” “Can’t Get Me Down” and “Jah is Always There”. Being nothing but an A-class performer, Warrior King serenaded the -Hostess with the Mostest – the lovely Dj Liveth (Sister Yvette Marshall), with his melodic rendition of “Wanna give you love.” Warrior King, an artist who in my opinion does not get his just due, was able to remind the patrons exactly why he was such a sensation in 2003, when he first came on the scene with Virtuous Woman.
The act that most complemented Warrior King’s in my opinion was that of Iba Mahr, an artist who is a relative newcomer in the business, but has had quite a slew of hits, such as: ‘Will I Wait”, “Let Jah Lead the Way” and of course “Diamond Socks”. Iba Mahr just couldn’t miss as he sang hit tune after hit tune reminding the crowd just how boundless the Jamaican music fraternity is in terms of talent.
Perhaps the most novel part of the show however was the Eighties Dancehall segment with a well- balanced set of Eighties artists, such as Josey Wales, Johnny –P and Tiger. Anticipation was high with regards to Tiger, as although he suffered serious head injuries after a motorcycle accident in the early 90s, many reggae aficionados have been looking for him to make a comeback. The question on everybody’s lips was just how well could Tiger perform? Well after a brief introduction by Johnny-P, Tiger came onstage and was able to show flashes of his old self, but seemed unable to sustain his old time DJ intensity for the duration of a full song. Nonetheless he got a good round of applause when he left the stage with Johnny-P, as he on his part had clearly given the performance his all. Tiger had defied the odds and was getting back to his old self.
Josey Wales, veteran DJ from the Eighties, could do no wrong; from the moment that he bounded on stage, he had the crowd eating out of his hand. It started with his monster hit, “Leggo mi Hand”, then there was “Undercover Lover” and of course he had to touch one of his most provocative tunes, “Love Triangle”, his famous song about Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and D’Angel as a love triangle.
Later on down in the show, Sanchez (Kevin Anthony Jackson) cemented his pedigree as Reggae’s Lover’s Delight, ladies swooning with hit after hit, such as “One in a Million”, “Baby Can I Hold You”, “Loneliness Leave me Alone” and “Tell It Like It is”. Sanchez a true heavy weight when it comes to the Lovers selection of Reggae, proved to be a very wise choice of artist for the show especially as Beres Hammond was not in the line up for this year.
In terms of the female artists on the show, the highlight was undoubtedly the performances of Spice and still rated queen of the dancehall, Lady Saw. Although Spice has been noted for her attempts to topple Lady Saw from her throne, she proved to be unsuccessful on this showing with Lady Saw reasserting herself as the Queen of the Dancehall with a truly masterful performance.
As we headed towards the midnight hour and the show neared its climax, Capleton re-energized the crowd with his fiery lyrics and his boundless energy. The Firemen (AKA Capleton) bounced up and down all over the stage as though on an invisible pogo stick, spitting out rapid fire lyrics at the same time. Capleton, still one of the most energetic performers in the Dancehall arena, despite being almost 50 years old, was literally on fire, as he belted out the lyrics to “Slew Dem”, slewing all prospective competition to his engaging style of delivery and performance.
The effective headliner for this show was “Shabba Ranks” (although not formally billed as such according to the Running Order). We in Miami hadn’t seen Shabba since Best of the Best 2011, in a very memorable show over at Bicentential Park. He didn’t disappoint then and on this night he didn’t disappoint either. Shabba had the crowd well and truly captivated when he performed “Ting-a-Ling ah Ling- School Bell ah Ring” and was clearly on a roll when he performed “Mr Lover-Man” alongside the sexy Aisha Davis, who effectively took the place of notable songstress Chevelle Franklyn. Shabba Ranks on this showing (even though he is close to fifty now) demonstrated that he still is the King of Dancehall. (Sorry Beenie-man, but I’m sure that all long time die-hard Dancehall pundits would agree with me). Speaking of Beenie man, unfortunately he was a no-show due to visa problems. Nevertheless, after Shabba’s masterful performance, I don’t think the patrons at Best of the Best 2015 were too disappointed by his absence.