I had fun at this concert, not only because I was the DJ alongside Spex, and not only because I was photographing the event, but because this kind of show was out of my league of expertise, and I’m always excited to ‘learn’. I normally would not choose to attend a Mykal Rose/Junior Reid concert since I was never a Black Uhuru fan or fan of either solo artists – nothing wrong with these musical icons, it’s just I’m more or less a dancehall guy, raised with the Beenie’s, Buju’s and Bounty’s of the world.
Having said that, I can also say that after talking to fans of both artists who saw the Kool Haus performances, these shows were more or less average in terms of quality and impact. It wasn’t the band’s fault, Mountain Edge were on on this night, but both Junior Reid and to a lesser degree, Mykal Rose, suffered a disconnect at this concert. They both could have related to the crowd better, talk to the people, slow down a bit, engage their back up singers and the band – but both artists seemed isolated and ‘alone’ on the stage despite delivering a non-stop barrage of hits back to back. The audience was never in a frenzy, and if one tries to remember a hilight or peak moment from either performers, it would be difficult to remember any. For me, both shows seem to go by with a blur, but in all fairness, maybe if I were a big fan of these artists, it wouldn’t appear this way.
I’ll big up Exco Levi as well – he was right on point with his opening show performance (…it was Exco Levi/Junior Reid/Mykal Rose in that order…) which stretched out longer than I thought it should. Exco gave it his all, perhaps emotional after a tragic event from the night previous that left a rider and his passenger dead after a motorcycle accident. The talk on the Internet the next day was all about how Exco Levi himself was supposed to have been that passenger, and he would have been, except for a last minute change of plans that made him stay behind and another person occupy that passenger seat. A sad story indeed. Condolences to those who have passed.
Exco Levi is always great in concert because he gives it his all, lyric by lyric, tune by tune, every single time. Still, a lot of the audience were in a kind of gaze during his show. Despite the popularity of Exco Levi internationally, it seems here at his ‘home’ in Toronto, Canada, there is still a lot of room for growth. Many would be surprised to know that in other territories where Exco is currently booked to perform, his influence and his music is so huge, that often, audiences are able to sing every lyric to the majority of his songs word by word! The story is so typically Canadian, but Exco Levi is a bigger star ‘there’ – than he is ‘here’! It might be 2014, but as embarrassing as it may seem, Canada is still playing catch up and has a blind spot for recognizing true talent even when it’s in front of their face!