I got the call late in the day to attend the Caribbean Night at the Northern Star Arena in New Jersey’s Six Flags. Billed as a celebration of Caribbean heritage and 50 years of the amusement theme park, it promised to be a great event, featuring I-Octane, Mavado and Barrington Levy.
Within minutes of my arrival at the venue after an uneventful ride down the Turnpike, that hypest of hosts – Jabba from Hot 97 was announcing the Gully God himself – the one and only Mavado. King of the Gully-Side, he immediately launched into a medley of his popular hits, songs like Star Bwoy, Gangsta fi Life, So Special. Destiny and Neva Believe You. Money Changer had the rude boys in the crowd putting pointer fingers up in the air. Certainly, the beats are highly infections, it’s hard to stand in a crowd listening to Gal a mad ova or Wha Dem ah Do and not nod your head to the beat. The young women in the crowd were going crazy, flags waving, as he greeted the Caribbean patrons in the venue and got excited responses to his roll call, I think Brooklyn got the loudest cheer, but there were partygoers who had even travelled from Pennsylvania! He then moved into his newer hits like Delilah and Come into My Room, the Stacious collaboration. When Mavado concentrated on the ladies, one young woman jumped on stage and proceeded to show him that she could Whine like a Gypsy. Nice to see the Gully God smiling as she told him that she wanted to marry him. Mavado is a singjay with lots of energy, but it’s a shame he doesn’t use that energy to sing his songs to the end. As he pranced around the stage, he tripped over a misplaced microphone and almost fell, but quickly recovered and made light of the fact that ‘no evil shall prosper’. I would love to see this artists concentrate on his delivery to give the fans what they want, more of him singing his hit songs that they’ve come to know and love. I’m a Survivor is a fitting way to end his set. In a nice touch he sends a shout out to his nemesis Vybz Kartel and wishes him an early release from prison where he is being held on serious charges, including alleged murder, gun and marijuana possession. Mavado is called back on stage and after praising Usain and Asafa sings his final offering – Pepper/ Man a Steppa
After a relatively short band change, during which the entertainment was provided by Jabba, DJ Banky Hype and the Detour Posse from LA who provided live back up for the next act – Veteran Jamaican artist Barrington Levy. I was really looking forward to this performer and I was certainly not disappointed. Barrington is fit, he’s lost weight and looks really great. You could see this artist came to work as he launched straight into his hit song Living Dangerously. Immediately he urged the crowd to participate in reprising the hook sung by Bounty Killa. It was a rare treat for me, seeing Levy perform classics like Prison Oval Rock, Under mi Sensi, Broader than Broadway, Don’t Throw it All Away, Black Rose, Too Experienced, Teach the Youth, What Kind of World, and his famous Intercom, which he upgraded by singing snippets frsong om his wildly popular 80’s intercom, telephone and s on up today’s modern communication devices.
Unfortunately, I arrived just after I-Octane’s performance, but patrons in the departing crowd were expressing their satisfaction with his perforce.
The two-day music event now in its seventh year, showcased the efforts of two premier promotors Trinii Fly Promotors and G City Enterprises getting together to bring a positive and unique celebration of Caribbean hearitage to Six Flags Great Adventure who, like Jamaica and Trinidad, was also celebrating it’s 50th Anniversary. Having a concert in an amusement theme park has a synergy that is hard to come by, there’s definitely something surreal about watching a performance when raising your eyes just slightly from the stage groups of folks are whizzing past in a giant roller coaster ride. Sun sets in a blazing ball of fire but the performers certainly brought their own heat to Jackson Township – Jersey’s Gateway to the shore.