JR Gong reigns supreme - R. Kelly recovers from late start to woo Sumfest women
- Categorized in: Mello FM News
Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
The 20th staging of Reggae Sumfest witnessed a historical, awe-inspiring performance, from an artiste who drew heralded and worthy comparisons to the world's greatest reggae icon.
The fact that comparisons were being made between Bob Marley, and his son Damian Marley, between Tuff Gong and Jr Gong, made the event seem even more historically important.
Entering the stage to his Confrontation instrumental and his locks flowing to his ankles, Jr Gong did not set out to prove he was the best Jamaican artiste. The way he performed, he sought to prove he was the best artiste in music, period.
Following an internationally renowned R&B superstar could have proved difficult, but Jr Gong took his act to a level many entertainers only dream of reaching.
Creating a high with his performance of More Justice, as the night went on, Jr Gong never peaked. Rather, there seemed to be no limit to how great he would be. From Beautiful to Still Searching, the fans received a show, and then some.
The flag man, the backup singers, the band, Marley himself, all fostered an engaging show while providing unbridled joy for those at the Catherine Hall Sports and Entertainment Complex in Montego Bay.
The Mission received such a thunderous ovation, he had to 'pull-up' the song. Move, a song sampled from his father's own Exodus, also received a deafening ovation.
Needless to say, the audience did not have to be prompted. They were moved. As the greatness of his performance increased, Jr. Gong serenaded the women with Affairs of the Heart, which naturally garnered the loudest response from the women.
It Was Written, one of the songs which placed Marley on the map internationally, continued the epic performance. By then, the audience was not only watching the show, they were performing along with him.
Paying homage to Bob, Jr Gong sang Could You Be Loved to undeniable approval from the fans. Those fans would not let him leave after that, and he delivered an encore that included a chill-inducing and soul-stirring exit with Welcome to Jamrock.
There was no doubt whom the best performance of the night belonged to. What observers were not expecting was to be witness to one of the greatest performances at Reggae Sumfest, ever.
For the American R&B superstar R. Kelly, no matter how well he performed, it would not be worth the 90-minute wait patrons had to suffer through for his arrival. And while he did not apologise for being late, he did ask for his "tipsiness" to be pardoned.
The same fans that blew their air horns in protest now used the instruments to show him love. For his fans, it was better late than never.
The Pied Piper of R&B got the crowd going by doing a compilation of some of the greatest songs he has featured on, including Hotel and Wonderful. After performing Snake, he received a huge ovation for calling on old-school R. Kelly fans. By then, the disdain had fully dissipated.
Both he and his female fans took his song Strip for You to heart, as they removed his shoes. Going a cappella, R. Kelly facilitated what sounded like euphoria among female audience members.
With men and women alike singing along syllable for syllable, Kelly took fans down memory lane with hits from the 1990s and early 2000s, transitioning between Your Body's Calling and Slow Wine.
By the time he performed the remixed versions of Ignition and Fiesta, it was clear that any ill feelings the audience held had been placed aside.
It was fitting that Kelly performed one of his biggest hits, I Believe I Can Fly, as he seemed to float across the stage.
As he stopped short of singing the chorus, he turned the microphone towards the audience and had them do it for him. A rousing response turned to a resounding response.
The opening acts served as just that; opening acts. This included Jedani, Raine Seville, Q-Ban, and the promising Conkarah, whose Reggae Sumfest performance showed immense potential.
A.J. Brown performed his hits, including When You Love and My Father, My Friend.
Protoje continues to represent the name he has bestowed on himself, as he carries himself as a descendant and apprentice of reggae royalty. In his call to arms, Take Control of Them, Protoje asked for a better Jamaica.
With the impending 50th anniversary of Independence, it was a timely message.
Addressing the legalisation of marijuana, he performed This is not a Marijuana Song, his lyrical prowess clear for all to hear. He closed his set to a lovely ovation.
Christopher Martin, of former Rising Stars fame, entered to Can't Love Me Now, and paid homage with renditions, incorporating soul hits Let's Stay Together and Sexual Healing into his performance.
Pleading to God with a prayer of sorts, Martin ended a terrific set with Cheater's Prayer.