Rototom Sunsplash 2015 Day 1 Image

by Federico Di Puma

Day 1 of Rototom Sunsplash started with a familiar voice, a voice that would remain the leitmotiv of the whole first day, “Vineyard Style Vineyard Style”, Super Cat’s. We heard him from far, from the camping site while we were slowly moving to the Festival’s  area.

The day at Rototom started with two very interesting sessions at the Reggae Unversity. The first one featured Brigadier Jerry and Josey  Wales on a journey into the Dancehall’s origins. The Brigadier and the Outlaw are two natural born entertainers, no matter if they are on stage or in a conference and the amount of events that they have seen provide for a huge amount of stories to share. “To reach where we are we passed through a lot of things – says a proud Briggy before addressing the theme of slackness in reggae music – only one deejay outta Jamaica can say he never talked slackness nowhere in his career, and that’s me”. And also Josey Wales shared a piece of memory “music was the little with which we could think of escaping poverty” said when asked of the first days deejaying on sound systems.

After them it was Super Cat’s time to enter the Conference stage and bless the audience with his memories of the early years in Jamaica and New York deejaying  on sounds like Killamanjaro or King Addies and becoming a legend.

Just a couple of minutes after the end of Super Cat’s conference and the shows start on the Main Stage. The honour to officially open Rototom 2015 is given to Junior Murvin and his Wailers. The man who used to be Bob Marley’s guitar in his last years has prepared a tribute show to the King of Reggae to honour his 70th birthday. He opened the show with Rastaman Vibration and continued classic after classic touching all the tunes that made a lot of people fell in love with this music, concluding his show with War/No More Trouble and Could You Be Loved.

If it’s true that it’s always a pleasure to hear Marley’s music from one of the people who were part of his journey it is also true that unfortunately Junior Murvin didn’t provide the amount of energy we all expected for the opening show of Rototom Sunsplash’s program.

On the other side one who brought energy to Rototom’s Main Stage was a talented young singer from France, Naaman. He opened his performance with Rebel For Life(originally recorded with Cutty Ranks) setting the tone for a highly energetic show that continued with Freedom and Give Thanks, with the last one introduced by a thankful speech to his supporters and to Rototom. “Two years ago we were playing on the Showcase Stage, now we are on the Main Stage, so big up everybody who supported me, and big up Rototom”.

Before leaving the stage the young French singer had the time to call on stage two guests, Massy and Triple to perform the hit Chill Out directly from the Ep Know Yourself.

We were very impressed by this young talent, who was able to show his energy and a style that reminded us a little bit of a young gentleman.

Another rising star, though much more established than Naaman, touched the stage just afterwards, Popcaan. The young talent from Portmore made his Rototom debut showcasing all his hits starting from Party Shot. An obvious big up to Vybz Kartel, who discovered him and made him big, provided the necessary introduction to Clarks, his definitive breaktrough, and Kartel name was mentioned several times during Popcaan’s show. Tunes from his latest work, Where We Come From, where showcased for the joy of his fans, with Jah Jah Protect Me and System standing out.

Popcaan is not exactly one of our favourites, but the amount of appreciation he gets from the people is quite important.

One last act remained for the Main Stage, Super Cat. Introduced by the great Kaushan Band, the Don Dada entered the stage elegantly dressed with a beautiful white hat on the notes of Vineyard Style and History. The energy he brought to Europe for these three special shows is perfectly intact and tune after tune Super Cat brings his incredible flow to the Rototom crowd.  Come Down, Mud Up, Boops, the energy keeps on growing and his hat flies away leaving free his long hair. Too Greedy, Don Dada, all the classics a reggae fan has listened again and again in his life are there live on stage for everyone’s joy. Ghetto Red Hot requires a pull up and then the show is concluded by Dem No Worry We.

To be able to hear Super Cat live (twice) was something I never thought possible in my life, and even if it seems very difficult and improbable, I really hope this European tour can represent the resurgence of Super Cat’s already legendary career.

Even if the lights go down on the Main Stage, Rototom Sunsplash is awake until daylight. The Showcase Stage provided 7 extremely interesting reggae bands, with the French Broussai standing out and probably ready for a bigger stage. The Dancehall area was blessed by the combination of Killamanjaro and Sound Trooper unleashing dubplates and hits on the crowd, while the Dub Academy saw Blackboard Jungle testing their impressive sound system alongside Don Fe and Noel Ellis.

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