The mecca of cricket may be in for a name change.
The Palace of Reggae sounds more like it.
More than 10 000 subjects stood in the rain at Kensington Oval Saturday night waiting to see their king, and Cocoa Tea certainly didn’t disappoint, keeping patrons glued to their seats until almost 5 a.m. at the Vintage Reggae Show and Dance event.
The second event of the annual Digicel Reggae Festival outdid itself last year with Admiral Tibbet as the main act, but the smooth-singing Cocoa Tea took it to another level Saturday night, and remains one of the most loved reggae singers by Barbadians.
At 4:45 a.m., wet and weary, fans were still at front stage begging him and screaming for more, even though they had already received two encores.
The dreadlocked Cocoa Tea did start on a slow note, engaging with fans for the first 15 minutes of his performance, but this isn’t the kind of beverage that gets cold from being out in the open. When he belted out Rikers Island and Love Me Truly it was, as they say in the entertainment business, all over.
Dressed in his trademark long-sleeved white shirt and black waistcoat, Cocoa Tea then took fans down Memory Lane, with his silky versions of Cindy Lue, Hurry Up And Come, Stand Up Straight, and Israel’s King.
Cocoa Tea also got some help from some of the greatest “old-timers” in the business, such as Yellow Man, John Holt and Pinchers.
Yellow Man in particular, should be given massive credit.
Hitting the stage at age 55 in his first performance in Barbados, one of the founders of the shift in Dancehall music showed he’s still got it.
Thinner and lacking the power of voice that catapulted him to stardom in the 1980s, Yellow Man is clearly affected by his body’s inability to produce the chemical melanin, a condition the albino has dealt with his entire life, and which has distorted his physical appearance.
It certainly hasn’t affected his ability to be a show-stopper. From the moment he ran on stage in his black and fluorescent green jogging suit, Yellow Man was on an energetic mission.
He was the first Jamaican solo artiste on stage for the night, and ran full steam into the performance, high-stepping his way across the stage for the entirety of his 45-minute performance, climaxed with his mega-hits Mr Chin, Getting Married In The Morning and Bam Bam.
After Yellow Man set the tone, on came the gentleman of Vintage Reggae, John Holt.
Holt doesn’t waste any energy on stage, and slowly thrilled the fans by starting with Doctor Love, a song which immediately prompted lovers in the crowd to hold each other and dance.
That was followed by I Want Your Love and Holt, in the most professional of ways, kept fans engrossed with his silky-smooth voice. By the time he ended his contribution with If I Were A Carpenter, patrons weren’t dissatisfied, but simply eager for Pinchers and Cocoa Tea to close the show.
Pinchers didn’t disappoint either, throwing the younger section of the crowd into a frenzy with his first tune, Enemies.
Pinchers was able to subtly interact with the crowd, and in spite of interrupting his singing to shake hands with his female supporters, kept his energy up during the one-hour performance, which included his popular hits Champion Bubbler, Agony, Sit Down Pun It and 100 Per Cent Of Love.
But the crowd was really ecstatic when he delivered a powerful rendition of his most loved tune, Bandelero which had thousands singing along in unison.
Before the Jamaicans had brought their stuff to the stage, Barbadian artiste Biggie Irie almost stole the show, with an impressive one-hour performance.
In his own personable way, Biggie Irie easily connected to the crowd, which was still gathering when he took to the stage to begin with Ten Tons Of Love, a song made famous in the 1990s, when he was a member of Splashband.
Biggie followed that up with Slow Dance, another Splashband hit, which encouraged many to start dancing on the turf in front of the Oval’s Worrell Weekes and Walcott Stand.
The Barbadian performer also did covers of vintage hits The Israelites and Ram Goat Liver as well as Pitter Patter before climaxing his performance with a song dedicated to three people who were at last year’s show, but have all died since then.
The song Woman was delivered in the memory of Sherlock Yarde, one of the founding members of show promoters FAS, Nicole Harrison, a reggae fan who was murdered after she left last year’s show, and popular photographer Harmony, who passed away from complications of diabetes.
Popular Jamaican band Fab Five did not have a long time on stage, but while there kept the crowd attached, with a number of back-in-time hits, highlighted by a perfect version of Sweet Pea and a superb delivery of Earth Wind and Fire’s Reasons.
The entire show was punctuated by light rain, from when Barbados’ Super Reuben took to the stage at 9:15 p.m. The night also saw fans being entertained by local deejays Daddy Fabian, Alvin Toppin and Lil Rick.