Wow, what a festival! Big up the promoters, artistes, staff and patrons who made this year’s Redemption Toronto Reggae Festival a huge success! I attended Day One only. Arriving in the early evening on Saturday, entering the Polson Pier Lot, I caught the introduction for Tarrus Riley. I quickly maneuvered through the crowd to the VIP section, then, made my way backstage to start work. I took some pics and videos (I apologize in advance for the sound quality – I’m having a problem with my external mic), I hope you enjoy them!
Now, on to my review! Since I arrived in the early PM, I had already missed Day One’s opener – Luciano as well as veteran artiste, Yellowman. Yellowman took the place of Beenie Man, who was slated for the festival, but, due to work permit issues, couldn’t make it. It’s too bad really, I would have loved to have seen Beenie perform again. Tarrus Riley was the ultimate showman! For those of you who haven’t seen him perform before, you don’t know what you’re missing! His stage performance and his lyrical prowess engaged the crowd from start to finish. He got a big forward when he threw in a Vybz Kartel sample (“Mi Nuh Trust People”) while performing one his own tune of the same riddim.
Next up, Toronto’s own, Blessed. What a great slot on the bill for Blessed, the last performance before the headliner – Beres Hammond. Blessed has been laying low the past few years since rising to become one of Canada’s best artistes. I’m not sure if the audience remembered him or not – some of his ‘anthems’ seemed lost to them, but, he trodded on and remained on point during his set. While far away from ‘rusty’, Blessed’s voice was not as tight as it used to be, nonetheless, he was consistent whilst delivering his chunes. It would be nice to hear a new ‘hit’ song from Blessed again, to keep him relevant in the scene. Who knows, he might just give Exco Levi a run for his ‘Juno’ money!
Night was starting to fall, it was that time, time for Beres Hammond to take the stage. By this point and time, there were upwards of 4,000 people in attendance – all waiting with smiling faces for Beres. As usual, Beres Hammond’s son blessed the stage with a nice juggling set before his father arrived. He’s a part of Beres’s show – a touring member that lights the way for his father. I was once told, he carries a list of songs for his juggling set, and, as part of his contract, those are strictly his chunes to play – as in, hands off to any other DJs on the bill that might want to spin them too. This may be a rumour,but, true to course, year after year, he usually plays the same set with the same speeches – hey, if something works, why fix it?
Fortunately for Beres, he has an incredible catalogue of which to choose from; even if he wasn’t able to sing full force, the audience had no problems doing it for him. Besides, his band was tight! He would later make amends by having his fraternity brothers – Luciano, Tarrus and Lenn (Hammond) appear on stage with him to perform for 20 minutes or so. It was truly entertaining – true legends in action! Beres ended the show himself and did not return for an encore.
So that was it, another year of attending the Redemption Toronto Reggae Festival. Thanks to the Promoter (D’Bandit) for granting me my back stage pass, and for advertising with ReggaeMania.com. I got some great pics and videos for ReggaeMania fans to see so enjoy. The question now is what will next year have in store – are we going to see Beres Hammond again, or is three years in a row of two nights in a row of Beres Hammond (Dancehall’s most expensive yet most loved and highest drawing reggae artist) enough for the Toronto people who are completely spoilt in their tastes and expectations. Toronto is a very unpredictable urban business market, and finding an ample replacement for Beres Hammond will be difficult, yet probably not impossible, we’ll have to wait and see.
For those wondering about Day Two – Sunday day and night coverage, I didn’t attend. I heard the attendance was close to the same as Day One – Saturday and the lineup featured: Christopher Martin, Romain Virgo, Shaggy and Beres Hammond. Talk of the town…Romain Virgo stole the show! If you’re interested, visit our facebook page to view pics from Day Two courtesy of Vivian Barclay.