The culture areas of the festival saw the Spanish Premiere of the movie Journey To Jah. Directed by Noel Dernesch and Morith Springer, the documentary portrays the musical and spiritual journey of two great European Reggae artists, Gentleman (Journey To Jah is also the title of a Gentelman’s album) and Alborosie.
Being the 17th of August, the birthday of Marcus Garvey, the Reggae University debate was dedicated to him: the panel saw Kabaka Pyramid, Prof. Louis Chude-Sokei from the University of Santa Cruz and Dr. Cecil Gutzmore, director of the Pan African Social Community Forum in Brixton, debate about the figure of Garvey and how his ideas influenced most of the Black movements all over the world, from Malcom X to Mandela. Later on the Main Stage Beenie Man himself reminded everyone again about Garvey’s Birthday.
The theme of the other cultural area of the Festival, the Social Forum, this year is “Paths of culture and freedom”, with the topic of the second day couldn’t be more related to the general title: “To Live and Die on the border”, with a focus on the southern border of Europe, Lampedusa and Ceuta.
As on the first day the shows on the Main Stage started sharply, and at 8.45PM Collie Buddz made his way on the stage, expressing his joy for being here in Benicassim with I Feel So Good and then dropping almost immediately one of his bombs, Come Around. As soon as the Bermuda born artist stepped on stage, in the crown a Bermudan flag appeared and the guys managed to give it to Collie so that he could wave it on stage.
His backing band supported him greatly, especially the guitarist and the lady on the backing voice, who showed her class supporting Collie singing Turn Your Lights Down Low, played at their best. A few other covers (Waiting In Vain and a medley with tunes from Half Pint and Supa Cat) were played before the artist went back to his repertoire with Tomorrow is Another Day and Mamacita, before ending his set with the big tune Blind To You who had the crowd singing verbatim.
The second act on the Main Stage was Mo’Kalamity backed by The Wizards. Born in Cape Verde but grown, personally and musically in France, this beautiful lady appeared on stage with no shoes and a red dress and showed everyone the beauty of her voice. A huge part of the album Freedom of The Soul was played here at Rototom, with Frontline and Under The Rain standing out for the quality of the performance. The Wizards are a tough band and their sound remained at its best for the whole show and it was really nice to hear different instruments on stage: the flute gave a special, magical vibration to the whole concert. This magical and spiritual atmosphere reached its peak with In The Name Of Jah.
If on the first day the moments between the main acts were owned by Spanish artists, on the second day there were some differences: after Mo’Kalamity’s show, Askala Selassie, who had performed the previous night on the Blackboard Jungle sound system, stepped on stage for a couple of tunes. This lady has a great voice and is bound to have a great future.
Third on the Main Stage was Romain Virgo backed by the great Unit Band. He was at Rototom on the first Spanish edition in 2010 and came back after four years. Romain knows what to do on stage and performed hit after hit with his amazing and powerful voice. His show started with Who Feels It Knows It and Live Me Life, but it soon transformed in a set for lovers, with Wanna Go Home and Love Doctor. Then moved to his social tunes, and in this segment of the show Serious Time and No Money were welcomed with lots of enthusiasm by the crowd.
Romain’s show had two very touching moments: the first was the introduction of one of his latest tunes, General, dedicated to the friends and family members he lost in his life (he will then tell Jamaicansmusic in the press conference the whole story of the song; the story of his friend from school killed by knife just before an exam), and the second was his heralding a blind man from Italy who has been following his shows all over Europe: Virgo thanked him for his support throughout the years, and hailed him for his passion.
Virgo and the Unit ended the show with No Worry ‘Bout Them, the tune originally recorded in combination with Konshens.
The last show on the Main Stage scheduled at 1.00 am was Beenie Man, and at the same time Mellow Mood were putting up a special show in the Dub Area with Paolo Baldini at the controls and Sr. Wilson, Andrew I and many more on the mics.
To cover both shows our team divided and we have to say that we witnessed two great gigs. Beenie delivered as expected, King of Dancehall style: he had everyone waving something on Badman Story and Come Again, challenging his drummer to follow his fast-style deejaying. A tribute to the Bam Bam riddim and the artists that sang on it was introduced with the sentence “If you don’t know sh*t don’t say sh*t” and King of Dancehall and Frame I & I kept the crowd hot until Future Fambo joined Beenie on stage for Drinking Rum & Red Bull, which saw also the presence of two dancers on stage. Rum & Red Bull destroyed the stage and I’m Ok was the perfect icing on the cake for a great show.
The Dub Area was full of surprises: Blackboard Jungle’s scoops provide the perfect atmosphere for a long dub session, and Mellow Mood were soon joined also by Kabaka Pyramid, Micah Shemaiah, Infinite and Askala Selassie and with all these artists together it could only end as a great performance.
And the surprises are not over with this: in the Dancehall Area Pow Pow Movement took over the show and Beenie Man and Busy Signal were seen dancing around and enjoying the vibes.
Story by Federico Di Puma, Giulio Marino and Gianluca Goffredo