Enjoy these pics of Jamaica’s Gully Bop live in concert Friday May 1st at Classic Lounge (Toronto) for his first Canadian performance. Big up Sample King, Purchaser and YV Promotions, who can now take credit for launching this hot Jamaican Artiste in Canada for his 1st time. Gully Bop performed first in Niagara Falls the night previous, followed by his much anticipated Friday night Classic Lounge performance. The following (Sunday) evening, Gully appeared at a Jones & Jones press conference where it was announced that this summer’s Jambana would star non other than Gully Bop himself.
The Gullly Bop story is interesting, in a period of less than a year, this previously unheard of 52 year old sing-jay from ‘country’ has literally gone from rags to riches, becoming Dancehall’s most popular artiste with popular songs (an memorable hooks) such as “Body Specialist “and “Dem Nuh Bad Like Me”. Last December, Gully Bop made headlines as he silenced all doubters with a convincing Sting performance focused mostly on dissing fellow veteran Jamaican artiste Ninja Man.
Going back to the Classic Lounge show – Gully Bob came on stage about 2:15 am, after a slew of Canadian Artists warmed up the audience. And speaking of the stage, let’s talk about that for a second. The Classic Lounge stage leaves much to the imagination, and while it’s admirable that this venue has created a stage for live performance, the truth is that this set up leaves much to the imagination. The stage is too small, and when the place is packed like it was on this night, can also become very slippery. There are also no crowd control barriers separating this stage from the audience, so performers who work the Classic Lounge stage are very restricted in what they can do. Taking pictures that night was virtually impossible, so when you see the pics, please keep this in mind.
I state the above because in the end, I cannot credit Gully Bop for doing a ‘good’ show in Toronto. It may not have been his fault though, that is the lesson here. Most performers one would think are protected by a contract that prevents them from being forced to perform under unsafe conditions. Mind you, in dancehall, that’s not the ‘way’, one would be surprised how much inconvenience both Artistes and their audiences (promoters too) tolerate just to deliver reggae passionately to the people. So the stage may have been small, but Gully wasn’t complaining.
But in the end, the stage killed the show. Gully Bob may been more appropriately advertised as a pass through or guest appearance, this wasn’t a true concert performance – all we heard were a few hooks before Gully Bop was overwhelmed by a crowd of mostly women who couldn’t help but rush him on an already overcrowded stage. The pictures speak for themselves, it was quite the party, Gully couldn’t have been happier. Women were all around him, ambushing him, touching him, whining him down, smiling at him, admiring him, and not to mention, singing out his lyrical hooks. Gully Bop was here, and he was getting the super star sex symbol treatment – that in essence, was a show all by itself.
In the end, Gully was delivered as promised, and what audiences got, and seemed content with, was an underground style dancehall show where Gully was more of a tease than a polished performer. But don’t worry, this summer’s Jambana stage will present a more opportune environment for this artiste to truly shine and show Toronto what he’s got.
For now, I will say that from what I’ve seen, success has not yet gone to Gully Bop’s head. Although he’s the big thing ‘Round Here’, Gully Bop has a good attitude, and seemed humble and appreciative of the opportunity that Dancehall has given him. Like most critics, I look forward to monitoring the development of this Artiste, who I hope will have sustainability in this fragile Dancehall scene. Enjoy the pics!