This year’s Redemption Reggae Festival was a total success. A big congratulations to DBandit Promotions on this one, many had said it would be hard to top last year’s Festival, but this year moving it outdoors and bringing back Beres Hammond to headline on two nights was a winning strategy. Despite a stormy and rainy first day, my guess is that close to 5,000 people turned out at the Polson Pier Parking Lot to witness performances by Maxi Priest, Mr. Vegas, Tarrus Riley and Beres Hammond. The next day, I’m guessing that close to 4,000 people attended to see Christopher Martin, Barrington Levy, Sean Paul and the return of headliner Beres Hammond. Both nights would also feature performances by Canadian artists Lindo P., Korexion, Mel Dube, Gyles, and Ammoye.
I wasn’t there the first day, but Lisa West represented for ReggaeMania.com and took photos. From all reports, the show was well executed and featured Maxi Priest on first followed by a series of Canadian artists including Lindo P. who from all reports mashed up the place. I heard Mr. Vegas destroyed it after that, followed by Tarrus Riley who also did an amazing show featuring back to back favourites that had the crowd singing along. Beres Hammond, as expected, closed the show with another classic performance. He paced himself well during his show and appeared completely at home with a crowd that truly enjoyed themselves as hit after hit was delivered by a fairly energergized Beres Hammond and his band.
Night Two was highlighted by almost perfect weather conditions when compared to the day previous. Because things had run smoothly on day One, things were a little less tense in the building, and people were friendly and social while witnessing live music and performance. When I entered the venue, I did not have a back stage pass, but I was spotted by one of my comrades Farley Flex who wanted me back there with him so he could promote a new TV Network that he would be launching.
My late arrival on Sunday cost me to miss Barrington Levy’s and Christopher Martin’s performances, but I was able to meet and pic Mr. Martin back stage. I polled a few fans who had no complaints about either artist’s performances. Tarrus Riley had stuck around back stage after his Saturday performance, so I was also able to meet and pic this great artist as well. It was the same with Sean Paul and Beres Hammond, I was able to meet and pic them both backstage – didn’t see Barrington anywhere.
As soon as I had settled into the back stage area, Sean Paul was about to go on. I observed him as he exited his dressing room and waited on the side of the stage for his entrance cue. Seeing Sean Paul performing with a live band was interesting, and I give him credit for creating distractions from himself in order to help amplify his show. His show resembled a rock show or pop performance. Sean Paul himself was rather boring to watch, but he had a hip-hop styled MC beside him, two Asian live dancers who never stopped moving, and a band that seemed awkward at times but delivered their songs with a punch. Too bad the audience wasn’t too into it, or not into Sean Paul, who must be wondering why Toronto wasn’t feeling him the same as other territories do.
I won’t say Sean Paul flopped because his show left no empty gaps and instead was constantly moving and full of energy. That makes up for the Sean Paul monotonic twang that get’s a bit irritating after 15 or so minutes. It’s just that the audience wasn’t very responsive, and it seemed they weren’t feeling his songs, despite the legacy of hits left behind and a very solid 50 minute perfomance. Sean Paul was the DJ-representative over the two day Festival, the rest were all singers or sing-jays.
Next up were a few Canadian Artist performances then it was time for Mr. Beres Hammond, and the crowd was hyped, ready and waiting. Beres Hammond’s son was dressed in all white and was the DJ who played from center stage as the final segment before Mr. Hammond would grace the stage for his final of two consecutive nights. Mr. Hammond was in a good mood and seemed happy that the temperatures had eased for his performance compared to the cool temperatures and rain the night previous bound to have made many feel a wee bit miserable.
I have seen Beres a few times now in concert. On this occasion, Beres sounded crisp and clear as he deliver classic hit after classic hit, and if you didn’t think it was live, he’d prove it to you by delivering a startling series of accappella’s that showed people why he’s the blessed artist that he is. He remained cool and calm on stage and was always accompanied by his personal road manager-bodyguard who at all times seemed poised to catch Mr. Hammond if he should stumble or fall (see the pics of his backstage exit – exclusive to ReggaeMania.com). It is speculated that Beres Hammond may be somewhat ill. There are unsubstantiated reports that and he may have some form of Cancer. I noted that Mr. Hammond did not remove his baseball cap at any time during his two performances, is it possible that he has lost all of his hair as a result of treatment for the disease?
Big up Mr. Beres Hammond, another splendid show for the Toronto massive. And was I the only one that noticed – but it seemed like Beres wore the same shirt two days in a row (I’m sure he washed it before re-wearing it), no? And is it just me, but didn’t the Beres Show last year contain the same percussion solo demonstration, bass guitar solo, and lead guitar solos as the ones performed last year, and in the same order? Perhaps these things don’t matter to fans, but I thought it would matter to the Artist not to repeat, guess I’m wrong.
I bigged up the promoters on the 2014 Festival before, but I also have to big up the fans. Everybody partied in peace, and at one time in this city, an event like this could never have happened outdoors without some kind of violence or negativity or Police in patty wagons and horseback. Big up Night One – I wasn’t there but I heard that this night had better vibes than night two, which I personally thought had great vibes! I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking – there are over 400 of them! Bless.