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Tessanne, Matthew Schuler, Damian Marley and Ne-Yo Rock Shaggy and Friends 2014
Maybe it was for the promised night of high calibre entertainment or the lofty charitable goals or maybe it was the heady combination of doing good while having a good time which had thousands of Jamaicans flocking to the Kings House Grounds for the 2014 installation of the Shaggy and Friends charity concert. It was a great night for a great cause with stand out performances by Tessanne Chin, Neyo, Junior Gong and Matthew Schuler.
I had entered the parking lot for gold and silver patrons trepidatiously already suffering from the backlog of traffic from Waterloo on to West Kings House Road. The parking lot undulated wildly and offered threats other than those whispered by the sent of fresh manure. Getting from the lot to the venue, a mere five minutes away by foot (which was not allowed), was its own adventure, especially when some patrons found themselves chasing down the shuttles which seemed to be playing a version of roulette.
“You see how dem ave wi a run after di bus like hog and goat,” said one frustrated woman. The ride itself was nothing like that however, and once in the venue, all frustrations were quickly eroded.
The night received a strong opening from a blue satin bedecked Pinchers closely followed by Admiral Bailey who entranced with the Della Move and the powers of the big belly man. They were followed by Admiral Tibet who unfortunately foundered on rocky ground. Carlene Davis, The Mighty Diamonds and Chris Martin followed, providing solid sets, Martin bringing a welcome level of energy.
Then Macka Diamond bumbled to the stage. It seemed she had taken a wrong turn somewhere (probably caused by the lyrical concussion received at Sting). She was headed for flopdom as the the audience stared at her perplexed (whether by her hair or her performance we are unsure). However, she recovered and regrouped dishing out lessons on how to cheat which finally earned her some applause.
The once famed energy god, Elephant Man, then bounded to the stage. He soon ran out of breath but that might have been caused by the tightness of his polka dot pants which must have interfered with his circulation. And where he might not have been as energetic as former times he had enough popular tunes in his arsenal. And when he pulled a little girl to the stage the audience erupted, as he hauled and pulled her across the stage and eventually threw her on his back like a delighted sack of flour to ‘Signal Di Plane’.
Some of the night’s most delightful moments came from short sets. Ity and Fancy Cat brought much laughter as being on the grounds of Kings House did not stop them from poking fun at Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller. Kes also delivered a short and sweet set pulling off the double feats of making his plaid pants look hot and bringing some soca flavour to the night.
Junior Gong’s cameo set the night ablaze. He bounced on to the stage during a performance by Agent Sasco and Wayne Marshall and the night exploded as he turned up the tempo with ‘Welcome to Jamrock’. Marshall’s performance had been fair, and he had earned some cool credit by performing with his eight year old son. Sasco did a more than fair turn showcasing his wit and lyrical talent, but it was by no means his most brilliant performance.
Next up was Konshens who unveiled a more sensitive side before delving into a party mood. Fortunately, he was able to sense when his performance, which had begun to drag was heading downhill as he had been on the stage for too long, but he smartly pulled on God and Jamaican’s obsession with badmind to leave on a strong note.
Ne-Yo delivered a high class performance with a slew of his hits including ‘Tonight’ and ‘Let Me Love You (Until You Learn to Love Yourself) that had the audience dancing and singing along lustily. He would soon return to the stage with Shaggy to perform ‘You Girl’ his collaboration. For this interest in Jamaican culture, the main man of the night, the boombastic one, dubbed Ne-Yo an official Jamaican.
After a short band change it was time the bring on the woman who had arguably brought out much of the crowd, Tessanne in her first performance in Jamaica since her win of NBC’s the Voice which earned her a space in the heart of many Jamaicans. The video introduction by Dutty Berry had the audience in stitches and when Tessanne finally hit the stage singing a reggaefied rendition of Hoobastank’s ‘The Reason is You’ her tribute song to fans.
"Oh my God it's so good to be home,” Tessanne told the exulted audience. “It's been such a journey and I feel like I been carrying you all with me." The then went into a slew of the songs she had performed on The Voice, giving the audience their chance for the live experience. Tessanne also served up a few of her own pieces including 'Messenger'.
Then she unleashed the charms and talents of fellow The Voice contestant Matthew Schuler on the audience. He opened with ‘When a Man Loves a Woman’ which he gave a far superior treatment than the version he had delivered on the voice. And when he sang ‘Hallelujah’ quiet awed descended on the grounds. And as though that was not enough he wormed his way further into their good graces with a good rendition of Wayne Wonder's 'No Letting Go.’
Tessanne returned with her absolutely beautiful rendition of 'Bridge Over Troubled Water' which she followed up with her new single 'Tumbling Down' to which she added a twist of Reggae. Tessanne then held the audience riveted with Whitney Houston’s 'I have Nothing'
She had kicked up the opening several notches. She then capped the performance with 'Hideaway’ leaving the audience breathless or at least panting slightly.
And though the night could have easily ended there, it didn’t as several performers were still milling backstage. Chronixx presented a sturdy delivery of his militant lyrics, this time mixing his Peter Tosh flavour with a dash of Papa Levi’s stylings.
“Mi see some ity-tighty people inna di place and mi know seh Jamaica people no ity-tighty so a muss some other people inna di place,” called Chronixx. He delivered ‘Smile Jamaica’, ‘Warrior’ and ‘Odd Ras’ among others.
Taurus Riley then took over the stage providing a solid set including ‘Lion Paw’, ‘Never Leave’ ‘Stay With You’ and ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ for which Konshens returned to the stage.
Sean Paul was the night’s penultimate performer and his turn on the stage highlighted the leaps he has made as a performer in the years, unveiling his ability to now wine, a feat that had long escaped him. The dutty one delivered ‘Got to Love You’ and ‘Temperature among others including ‘Riot’ his collaboration with Damion Marley which brought the young Gong back to the stage.
Shaggy and Friends 2014 closed in the wee hours of Sunday morning.