March 2, 2023
IT would be difficult to choose a standout performance at last Friday’s ‘Salute to Dancehall’ held at Mas Camp in St Andrew, due to level of talent on show. However, Ruff Kutt Band could be considered the winners.
Demonstrating what a well-prepared group of professional musicians can accomplish, Ruff Kutt expertly handled the demands of all eight acts over their four-hour stint on stage, foregoing the necessity for any of the usual annoyingly lengthy breaks associated with band changes between artistes, which tends to cull the intensity of the show. None of that happened at ‘Salute to Dancehall’. Despite a late start, for which an apology was actually metered out to the long-waiting crowd, Ruff Kutt hit the ground running and never stopped until the end. A valiant performance that must be commended.
Ultimately, dancehall means different things to different people and the show acknowledged this with a wide enough range of acts to offer up a good picture of its history and significance. Peter Metro represented its early beginnings. Way past veteran status and pretty much a dancehall legend at this point, Metro’s career has long given him the stage presence and awareness to cater to an audience that might contain persons not even alive during his musical peak. Hits from the ’80s such as Police Inna England and Nuh Put it Deh were backed up by his animated and patriotic performance, topped off by his ability to his tracks to current events.
Singing Melody brought the more sonorous side of dancehall with his cadre of songs. He was the first act of the evening and the first to articulate his displeasure with the current state of the genre, laying praise on those who inspired him musically.
Bringing things way forward was the lone female act on the show, Macka Diamond. She acquitted herself with respect for those in attendance, able to toe the fun line between innuendo and not allowing her performance to descend into the lewd. The Money-O singer also had no problem gaining approval for hits such as Bun Him and Cow Foot.
The remainder of the evening was a love letter to dancehall in the eyes of many. Mr Lexx, Beenie Man, Capleton, and Sizzla are all icons of dancehall music from the ’90s to 2000s , even as they continue to be relevant to this day. All four had the audience standing and singing along with emphatic energy through their individual sets.
Mr Lexx brought his infectious humour to the show from the first bars of Cook were heard. Beenie Man, now fully mobile, exploited his connection with the band to present an impactful, abridged version of his extensive catalogue. Capleton and Sizzla didn’t even have to sing their songs, as once patrons heard the opening words from the artistes’ mouths they would just continue for them.
Master of Ceremonies Richie B best summed up Salute to Dancehall. Each of the acts could have been a show in themselves, commanding top dollar locally or internationally. To have them perform free for all to experience was an occurrence to be treasured.
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