Steel pulse sizzles
The funky "up-full", uplifting sounds of reggae music filled the Chaguaramas peninsula last weekend, as the legendary Steel Pulse rocked the O2 Amphitheatre alongside a stellar cast of musicians, singers and DJs at the first annual Mackeson "Reggae on the Bay" concert event. From as early as 3 p.m., patrons began to assemble and the live action began roughly an hour later with a mega cast of local reggae stars, including: the band, Buzzrock—who provided solid backing for exceptional performances from Levi Myaz, Jah Melody and Marlon Asher.
"I just wanna give thanks to the promoter and all the people that came out to support this event," said Melody afterward. "This was a great day for reggae music and for Trinidad, it's good to see these type of events being staged and being so successful as well. We give thanks for the opportunity to share our talent on the same stage with these legends of reggae music, even as we work hard to share positive vibes and become legends in our own right over time."
Aaron and Helen Marquez also performed on tracks during the band changeover, as the crowd peaked and the sun set on the peninsula—setting the stage for what would be a fantastic performance by the legendary Steel Pulse.
"This was big for us," said the Marquez brother, "for reggae music and for Trinidad. We needed this a long time now and all kudos to Matthew and to all the sponsors for making it possible and pulling it off in fine style."
The special sloping design of the facility provided perfect balance to the sub-divided audience, with those in "The Courtyard" section benefiting from an up-close and person view of the stage, while those on "The Greens" higher up on the incline received superior sound quality and oxygen distribution. Backed with a state-of-the-art sound system, as provided by Rent-A-Amp, event organiser, Matthew Dascent and his team succeeded in delivering an evening of top-notch entertainment hinged on the performances of three legendary Jamaican acts.
Known for their revolutionary and enlightening lyrical content, timeless riffs, rhythms, melodies and hook lines, Steel Pulse also delivered a flawless and captivating stage performance.
Engaging the audience with poignant rhetoric, energetic dance moves and classic material, the band literally lit up the arena with hit after hit throughout their approximately 75-minute set. Beginning with "Earth Crisis" and ending with the potent, "Roller Skates", Steel Pulse had the masses clapping, singing, dancing and reliving the foundations of reggae music—even as their lead singer, David "Dread" Hinds celebrated his fifty-sixth birthday in fine style.
Called for an encore after an initial departure, Steel Pulse announced Hinds' birthday and without much prompting, the entire audience joined the band in singing him a happy birthday song. This came in perfect compliment and tribute to his masterful performance on the evening and allowed the band to leave the stage before the crowd could demand any more.
"Rory" from the Immortal Stone Love Sound System then rolled his own mini sound system stage onto the main stage and filled the gap leading up to reggae/dancehall legend, Barrington Levy with conscious "juggling" of classic reggae and dancehall hits. He was assisted in part by female lyricist, Jah9—who delivered several strong selections in sequence, even as the call of Sunday night required many patrons to exit the arena in preparation for the following workday.
Notably, the celebrated mic-man/
selector called upon Trinidadians and Jamaicans to "celebrate our fiftieth anniversaries of Independence together" and affirmed that because "Reggae had evolved from Calypso, Mento and Ska", both nations had a right to embrace, promote and celebrate the music that continues to evolve and captivate audiences around the globe.
Taking the stage just after 9 pm, Barrington Levy brought the show to a close with a medley of his greatest hits and a showcase of his amazing voice and hit repertoire.
"I always love the vibes in Trinidad," said Levy, before leaving the venue. "The people give so much good energy—I always feel like I should stay, but you know... its good to leave them wanting more too, so I can come back a next time."
Similar to Digicel's "Reggae on the Hill" event in Barbados, this event will be an annual one which promises to be a staple of the industry in years to come, as well as a valuable showcase for exponents of the genre.
To that end, its organisers promise quality acts, punctual starts and seamless transitions and are definitely off to a great start given the successful staging of this first installment. Rather than being packed to capacity, this event attracted a moderate, but still sizeable audience, which allowed all patrons adequate room to express and enjoy themselves—while immersed in the fascinating "feel good" culture of reggae.