Sure enough the celebration of Arthur Guinness Day was well-executed in true Jamaican style – kudos to the Headline entertainment team. The Guinness ladies were simply elegant in their black and gold dresses that made them look like glasses of foaming Guinness floating around the crowded field of the National Stadium. The stage was glamorous providing little opportunity to be distracted from the pattern of complimenting colours and sheers – an ideal backdrop for the evenings favourable performances.
Immaculate in their delivery, each performance was a charmer as anyone would wish for their birthday. Let alone Arthur Guinness – the founder of the Guinness drink that keeps many Jamaicans warming and strengthened especially on that night of heightened celebrations.
As individuals chased the drink of the night with other drinks, even Red Bull, performer after performer had their way with the energetic audience. The only lady of the night was the opening act.
A bit peeved as the first act, Lady Saw nonetheless gave top teaser performance, and when she brought Ding Dong on stage, the crowd lit even brighter. My Way, Chat To Mi Back were done by the tamed Saw, who invited dancers to be raunchy with Muscle Control.
Wayne Wonder was next stirring waves of emotions in preparation for the Big Ship family, after Searching, Informer, and Saddest Day.
Freddie McGregor the captain wowed the crowd and led a cheerful sing-a-long of classics from his catalogue like Push Come To Shove and Big Ship Sailing. To the heightened spirits, Chino was called to continue the family charm. This he did with Pon Yuh Head, ‘Redbull and Guinness’ and From Mawning.
When Stephen McGregor came, the crowd was stormy and the two brothers toyed around with a wide selection like Protected, Cyaan Friend Again, Cyaan Tek We Life as they changed positions and posture, at times sitting on the stage’s edge.
Haitian-American selector Wyclef Jean could not help doing a performance of his own and entered at the top of the scaffolding, approximately 20 feet above ground in the centre of the Stadium field, stealing just enough attention of the audience from the stage.
After about 10-15 minutes, to shouts of Forward and lit lighters he himself was onstage playing a special dub from Romain Virgo before getting emotional over the Buju situation. “If I had one wish tonight, I’d free Buju Banton,” he admitted. Guitar in hand, and well made up, Wyclef belted a few of his lyrics like any local deejay, alternating at times with selections of music from local artistes including Khago, Mavado, Vybz Kartel.
“Mi Na Sell out Mi Friend dem” was a popular hit loosening tongues throughout the night of those who never tired of hearing it.
A brief moment as emcee, Wyclef then introduced the other international act, Busta Rhymes who teamed with Spliff Star in a collection of hits. Make It Clap, Put Your Hands Up and Give It To Me were chosen, but the duo’s prolonged stay almost lost the crowd’s attention.
So finally, the long awaited Shaggy literally wined his way on to the stage. Being nothing short of his usual entertaining self, he spoke volumes with his body as his deepening voice hit the tender spots of many women who responded tremendously to the tease. When Alaine accompanied Shaggy in For Your Eyes Only, as they did at Coke Zero, no one was swayed from the game Shaggy started.
Rayvon and Rik Rok in their collaboration were next before singjay Mavado.
Backstage Freddie and sons and a few other entertainers shared their happiness on being a part of what they considered a great event. Freddie summarised comments of the night when he applauded the “great concept” allowing for a variety of music from different eras and tiers to be deliverd in such an ideal celebratory package.
His sons were supportive and complimented what was said. Chino was pleased for the event that gave a good look to the country. He also was appreciative to be able to perform with a few legends, he said as he applauded the efforts made to handpick each performer to complete the night’s package.
Back on stage, Mavado got nearer to the masses to Touch Di Road, with Real McKoy and Money Changer, then got sober with Nine Life and The Messiah. From the Gully, Chase Cross and Flexxx brought Better Days and Gyallist.
Almost ending a well packaged black and white birthday present were Bounty Killer and Beenie Man who were beyond impacting as a team, backed by their bands Ruff Cut and Anger Management. Seemingly trying to rise as tall as they felt the crowd had hands in the air with constant waves and tossing lighters in the air, appreciating the travel through time with presented music.
A disciplined Bounty left the stage at one point allowing Beenie to do his set, and the ‘The Doctor’ administered his musical potions to good effect with hits like Mi Woman A Call Me and I’m OK. He was eventually joined by Mr G (performing Swaggerific), Khago doing Nah Sell Out, and Future Troubles with Rum and Redbull and no one could really want more.
However there was more for the wide eyed patrons with the return of the Bounty. “I’m not an angel, but I’m not a devil, either,” he said as he lamented the woes of the land, strategic not to hamper the festive moods of the night.
Patexx, then Elephant Man were invited and demonstrated well This Is How We Do It Elephant got a hold of the crowd with a few of his songs before the grand finale. More was simply not enough as Bounty called on Cham as surprise guest, sending the emotions of the crowd in unplanned disorder with thrilling satisfaction.
Stronger was the delivery of Bounty and Cham’s reunion after memories were brought back with Cyaan Believe, Babylon Boy, and Another Level.
A new kind of reggae that sweetened even the hops of Guinness in honour of Arthur Guinness and the local company that welcomed it to our shores.
Please see more photos of the Arthur Guinness Celebrations