Among the various events, the Reggae University saw two interesting sessions. The first was about “Life in the Ghetto” and had Droop Lion as the special guest; the singer of the Gladiators embodied the two faces of the Festival, expressing at first his ideas on society and music and then later on the Main Stage delivering a deep roots performance. In the end Droop Lion summarized in a sentence his vision: “Education is the key”.
The second panel was about “The Return of Dub in Jamaica”, with Addis Pablo and the Suns of Dub as main speakers. It was interesting for us to learn that dub events are the most constant in Jamaica and that through these events a young generation is being educated on what dub is.
At the end of the conference we went back to the Main Stage just in time for the beginning of Gladiators’ set. The band started with an instrumental version of Rockfort Rock. Then Droop Lion, clad in white and with a red, gold and green scarf, entered on stage singing Dreadlock Time Is Now immediately enchanting the crowd. Differently from the previous days, more people attended the first show on the Main Stage, almost completely filling the area.
They performed a great show mixing Droop Lion’s solo tunes, like Ghetto Life, with Gladiators’ classics, and exactly when the sun went down behind the hills of Benicassim they dropped Roots Natty Roots for the joy of everyone in attendance.
The show ended with Hello Carol and Stick A Bush, introduced by Droop Lion with: “When I sing these songs I cry like a baby”.
While waiting for the second big show, the one of Jesse Royal, Solo Banton and Addis Pablo kept the fire burning for a brief showcase.
The Dubtonic Kru warmed up their instruments and soon “The Small Axe” Jesse Royal appeared on stage connecting immediately with the people moving closer and closer to them and looking as if he was going to jump into the crowd by the energy he had.
His clean voice emerged during Butterflies, which had everyone skanking happily, and Garnett Silk’s Mama Africa. The big bomb of his show was obviously Modern Day Judas on the Rootsman Riddim, and Jesse freestyled on the riddim a few of his other hit singles.
At the end of his show he appeared in the press area with a big joint in his hands smiling to everyone around, and his happy mood remained even when the power went down in the media area; he then asked everyone to take out a lighter and move closer to him so that everybody could listen and see him and just kept on talking keeping his bright smile open to the flashes of the photographers.
Next on stage were Mellow Mood, but Rototom is always full of surprises, so before the twins took the stage, Micah Shemaiah and Infinite made their appearance backed by the Mellow Mood band performing Dread at the Controls and Reggae Rocket. The brothers entered the stage dressed with the same red shirts that made it quite difficult to recognize one from the other.
Their show was a balanced mix of tunes from their latest album Twinz, like the title track and Dig Dig Dig and older classics. Forelock from the Sardinian band Arawak sang Be Around with them on stage, and then their hit Dance Inna Babylon made the whole crowd erupt with enthusiasm so much they had to pull it up three times in a row.
The Italian band closed their show with one of the sweetest tunes of their last album, Don’t Leave I Lonely while a sea of lighters accompanied them on their ending tune.
At the end of their show, the youth RC stepped on stage backed by Silly Walks and was soon joined by Busy Signal (who remained at the Festival for three days) for their big tune Dreams of Brighter Days.
Finally came the time for the return of Anthony B to Rototom.
House of Riddim Band introduced themselves and Johnny Cool opened the show singing with his powerful voice and completely dominating the scene with his impressive physical bearing. He pumped up the crowd just before the arrival of Anthony B making people scream loudly the name of the main star of the day.
Anthony B arrived full of energy on the notes of Higher Meditation keeping the vibe strong with Freedom Fighter, Reggae Gone Pon Top and other big tunes. Since he is promoting his last album Tribute to Legends he gifted us with one of the best moments of his show singing a cover of Imagine, changing the first words of the song with “Imagine there’s no Facebook” for the general amusement of the public.
“I’m a freedom fighter, I’m a rasta warrior but I believe in love” was the perfect introduction for My Yes And My No. “Give thanks to the organizers of Rototom that fight to keep music alive” and then closed the show calling Kabaka Pyramid and Johnny Cool and sang One Love as conclusion of the day.
The night saw Solo Banton mashing up the dub station and King Addies spinning dubplates in the Dancehall Yard.
Story by Federico Di Puma, Giulio Marino and Gianluca Goffredo