Rototom Sunsplash Day 7: From Africa to Jamaica  Image

by Federico Di Puma

The Reggae University introduced a few artists that would animate the Main Stage later on: the Twinkle Brothers went through their historical career and Femi Kuti told his memories about his father and his experience in music acclaiming the powerful energy and the communicative strength of Afrobeat.

The musical night started with the Twinkle Brothers. The two brothers have been on the musical scene for fifty years, but they still have powerful and positive vibrations to spread. Starting the show with Breaking Down The Barriers they guided us on a musical journey throughout their long and brilliant career. They made us enjoy their set proficiently switching from Reggae to Dub versions of their tracks, and the Dub version was particularly brilliant on Babylon Falling and Repent. They celebrated their 50-year-long career playing their first record Somebody Please Help Me. The two brothers kept on playing with what they called “a twinkle version” of a Fela Kuti’s song, a tribute to Afrobeat, prelude of one of the following shows: Fela Kuti’s son, Femi before closing their set with two songs for Africa, Africa Nations Come Together and Famine.


Second on the Main Stage was Yannis Odua. Originally from Martinique, he is one of the most interesting artists from the French scene, and surprised us with a very energetic and powerful exhibition. Songs like Chalawa and Rouge Jaune Vert conquered an audience that surely didn’t know enough about him but that was very much pleased by the show.


In the afternoon during the press conference we asked Femi Kuti what are the connections between his music, Afrobeat, and Reggae, where he smiled and answered: “There’s a lot of connections because of the African origins, I like Reggae very much it’s just that I prefer my father’s kind of music. Tonight should be very interesting because I see there’s a very hardcore Reggae lovers audience, and it will be interesting to see what will be the reaction to my music, I hope it will be good!”. And good it was.


With a big band that counted three horns, three dancers and backing voices and many more musicians, Femi showed his class playing different instruments switching from keyboards to saxophone, clarinet and trumpet. Many songs from his last production No Space for My Dream (a title that apparently contrasts with this year’s Rototom theme, We Have A Dream, but he explained that it’s just because his dream is maybe too big to be realized in one life, and instead pushed us to keep on fighting for the fulfilment of our dreams) were played alongside some older hits.


After his show and before Shaggy’s turn, Rototom took some time to honour Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee celebrating his birthday, welcoming him on the big stage and having the people singing for him.


Shaggy had the privilege of closing the shows on the Main Stage in this seventh day of Festival. He entered the stage backed by a powerful band and joined by Rayvon singing Long Time and the mega hit Bombastic.  Shaggy stopped abruptly a couple of times asking more noise for the Rototom Festival pushing everyone by saying “You should be ashamed of yourselves!” and obtaining a massive reaction. He had his DJ playing a few songs in the middle of the show, one of those was Welcome To Jamrock, that Shaggy himself concluded saying: “There will be no murder tonight, the worst thing that can happen is that a couple of girls get pregnant, and in that case…it wasn’t me!”


Moving from his pop songs to the Dancehall ones, he played tunes like Angel, Love Me Jamaica, Church Heaten (this one introduced by the speech: “Security, I’m not responsible for what is going to happen now”), and concluded his set with a few songs from his last album Out Of Many One Music, with You Girl and Fight This Feeling standing out. He introduced to the audience all the members of his band; with a special regard to the two female vocalists and before leaving us he answered the Ice Bucket Challenge throwing a bucket of water on his head on stage.


As usual Rototom offered quite a lot of shows at night, and we were able to catch The Bluebeaters in the Ska Club, Cafe Touba on the Showcase Stage, One Love Hi Powa,  Jah Sound and Downbeat in the Dancehall  Area and a superb Dub session in the Dub Academy with Blackboard Jungle and African Simba on the mic.

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