Rototom Sunsplash Day 1: What a start! Image

by Federico Di Puma

It took 15 hours with car and train to reach Benicassim from our hometown Milano but we have to say that the first day of Festival was pure joy.

We managed to check the various stages before everything opened for the public, and it impressed us a lot to see how big and organized Rototom is. Waiting for the beginning of the shows on the Main Stage we managed to witness Cornell Campbell and the Soothsayers checking their sounds a couple of hours before their show.


We kept on walking around waiting for the first show when the percussion group Combe Capelle started a brief show that dragged a big part of the audience that was chilling in the different areas of the Festival under the Main Stage. It was then 8.30pm and dj Lampa Dread had just a few minutes to spin some tunes before the two hosts Rory from Stone Love and Eli Rojas announced the Soothsayers on stage.


It’s not easy to be the band that start things off, but their quality paid and soon many people joined under the Main Stage (as the band members said in the press conference after show “we were a bit worried, but the people came and with the people we did the show”) , just in time to see Cornell Campbell appearing on stage dressed completely in black leather singing Never Leave My Home, the first song recorded with the London based band and included in their album called Nothing Can Stop Us released in 2013.


The concert was the right mix of Campbell’s hits like The Gorgon, 100 Pounds of Collie Weed and Natty Dread ina Greenwich Farm, with songs from the album among which the title track and There’s a Fire. The first show of the Main Stage lasted for nearly 45 minutes and it was the perfect warm up for the Festival.


Between one artist and the other on the Main Stage, Rototom organized small showcases of Spanish artists, so that they could show their quality in the bigger area before playing their full shows on the Showcase Area. For the first night the artists were Ras Kuko and Ruben Lopez.


At the press conference, done after the concert, Campbell surprised everyone by revealing that at first he wanted to become a guitar player and there were other artists, like Alton Ellis, that pushed him to sing, and telling the whole story of his clash with Johnny Clarke while singing for us the songs that made their clash famous.

While Campbell was entertaining the media, on the Main Stage Kabaka Pyramid and the Bebble Rockers jumped on stage providing a much more energetic show. Overall a very solid show, with a few moments that stood out: one of those was definitely the “Empresses segment” with Worldwide Love, while the  biggest tune of his set was  Liberal Opposer, which set the crowd on fire. Kabaka then concluded with Warrior, sending his respect to Protoje who’s not at Rototom this year, and No Capitalist.

If Kabaka turned on the energy on the Main Stage, Busy Signal simply destroyed it. He entered on stage singing Step Out, and from the first to the last song he held the crowd in his hands, running and jumping from one side of the stage to the other delivering and getting energy and enthusiasm from the people who gathered completely filling the Main Stage area.

His set can be roughly divided in two parts: the first one saw Busy playing most of his dancehall hits Hustling, Bad Man Place, Unknown Number and Nah Go A Jail, and with the second he went to the one drop tunes Reggae Music Again, One More Night and Dreams of Brighter Days. To conclude his show in the best way he had everyone singing out loud Jamaica Love and then dropped the big bomb, Watch Out Fi Dis.

We really have no words to describe how intense Busy’s show was, he took no breaks and his voice always remained powerful, what an entertainer! You can see how much he enjoys being at Rototom by his press conference, when he declared: “Rototom is one of the best shows in the world, definitely better than any show in Jamaica. People appreciate music here!”


We thought it would have been difficult even for Jimmy Cliff to put up a performance at Busy’s level, but his class and experience were the perfect ingredients of a show that impressed without needing the explosive energy of the previous artist. If Busy inflamed us with his fast and energetic movements, Jimmy Cliff enchanted us with his class.


Every single tune he performed was a hit, from Jamaica Ska, Hard Road to Travel and Hard Road to Travel, to Vietnam (changed in Afghanistan), I Can See Clearly Now and One More; the first day on the Main Stage ended with the audience following Cliff’s voice during Wonderful World Beautiful People and filling the air with the notes of his music.

Story by Federico Di Puma, Giulio Marino and Gianluca Goffredo

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