The honorable mister Dean Fraser underlined 10 years of Tarrus Riley‘s musical history at the beginning of the concert in a lyrical way: “…when this singer started to sing he had many Challenges. And then these Challenges became Parables. And these Parables soon became very Contagious…”.
After an out of place acoustic album, the Jamaican reggae singer made a good comeback with his fifth album in February of this year: Love Situation. The album is a throwback to classic Jamaican rocksteady and currently being promoted in Europe.
The show was opened by female singer Alaine. Although not my taste of music, she managed to set the atmosphere before Tarrus Riley made his entrance. I have to admit I was afraid of an R&B-ish concert, but the Black Soil Band didn’t bring any of that. Dean Fraser’s musicians play very tight while visibly making fun on stage at the same time.
With decent (roots) reggae concerts becoming rare events these days, this was one of the most versatile shows that I’ve seen in a long time. Although using a lot of existing rhythms – both old and new – Tarrus Riley´s remarkable voice easily adapts the songs to be his own. On top of that, there is a lot of interaction with the audience.
Peaks in the concert where a Buju Banton tribute over Special Occassion, the hit song Gimme Likkle One Drop, the medley Let’s Do It Again / Protect The People / Karma and older songs such as Lion Paw and Good Girl Gone Bad.
Kassav’ was formed almost 35 years ago and the band has totally retained its strength. The core members (personal favorite Jacob Desvarieux, Georges Décimus, Jean Philippe Marthely, Jean Claude Naimro and Jocelyne Beroard) gave a very engaging and swinging show in Amsterdam. With an endless repertoire songs were often put into one big medley, loudly sang along by most of the audience, who seemed to know all the songs in French Antillean Creole, such as Siwo, Ou Lé, Zouk La Se Sel Medikaman Nou Ni, Soleil, Oh Madiana and Doméyis. It was an evening full of superior musicianship.
Last night Linton Kwesi Johnson has opened my ears for poetry. It is true that there are a lot of similarities between writing a poem and writing lyrics.
For over 30 years, Linton Kwesi Johnson has been working on both the´words of music´ and ´the music of words’, as he liked to call it. In the context of being an African-Caribbean in Britain, it was politics that brought him into poetry, he proclaimed. Influenced by the sound systems and artists like U-roy in Jamaica in the late seventies, he has found his own style and voice in dub poetry. As a poetry writer LKJ has recited poems alongside Allen Ginsberg and Michael Horovitz. As a reggae singer, he has been singing alongside numerous artists, including Burning Spear, Jimmy Cliff and Toots & the Maytals.
The night was a (personal) history class, speaking about the displacement of Jamaicans to the UK, the abuse of the Vagrancy Act (Sonny’s Lettah), the dead of his father (Reggae Fi Dada), protests provoked by Swamp 81 actions (Di Great Insohreckshan) and more recent works reflecting on the end of the Cold War (New World Order) and the achievements of his generation (More Time). All these poems are also recorded on CD and well-known reggae songs, but it is hard to deny that the words have more impact when purely spoken.
If you are more into music than poetry, do watch his Live In Paris concert (2003), and acknowledge the music of his words.
Saturday the 12th of October I had the privilege to attend the ‘ASonDeGuerra’ tour in Rotterdam. Although a slightly expensive and dutiful performance from Juan Luis Guerra, I could not have missed out.
The king of merengue nearly played for 2 hours, featuring his latest album complemented by a lot of hit-songs (aren’t they all?): A Pedir Su Mano, La Bilirrubina, Frío Frío, Ojalá Que Llueva Café, La Travesia, Para Ti, Como Yo and La Guagua. Together with a large band and bespoke video-animations to each song, a solid performance was put down. Among the merengue, bachata and salsa tunes, two songs were transcending the others in my personal opinion: El Niagara en Bicicleta and the duet Como Abeja al Panal.
The latin-ish crowd and good DJ’s prior to the show made it an excellent night to move your feet and sing along. If only there were more songwriters such as Juan Luis Guerra.