The cultural afternoon in Rototom was animated by two interesting conferences. Reggae university provided us with a special session on Bunny Lee with Spanish premiere of the movie I am the Gorgon – Bunny Striker Lee & the Roots of Reggae followed by a session which saw Bunny Lee himself and the Inner Circle going through lots of special moments of the history in Jamaican music. The Social Forum hosted a debate on the legalisation of cannabis with Julio Calzada from the Junta Nacional de Drogas de Uruguay, Joshua Meisel of the Humboldt University of Colorado, Joan Bartomeo lawyer and criminologist.
Rampalion offered us a nice opening show at the Showcase Club. Coming from Barcelona, this young but promising band has the elements of a classic Roots Reggae band with the research for new music.
The Main Stage was totally packed when Inner Circle made their way to the stage. The wait for the music of the last day calmed down on the note of Here I Am, guided by the guitar and the bass of the Lewis brothers - the only two original members of the historical band - they brought us on a journey through the history of Jamaican music. As they said later on at the press conference they don’t want to be labelled as old or new school, they think that music is an expression of the time, and so you have to look forward without forgetting the roots of your past. Following this principle, they drew tunes from their entire career catalog, paying tribute to the great Jacob Miller with Tenament Yard and Tired Fi Lick Weed, and going for their 90s repertoire. The grand finale saw the band performing Sweat and Bad Boys: the theme of which remained as a backdrop for solos of each musician of the band, with the singer Skatta distinguishing for a fast toasting.
Between the first two main acts, Christopher Ellis had the time to briefly introduce himself to the crowd with a couple of songs, prelude of his full show in the Ska Club later in the night.
Danakil was the second band to reach the Main Stage on the final day. This French band has year-by-year conquered lots of fans all over Europe with a sound that encompasses Roots Reggae, Soul and Funk influences. Their last production was called Entre Les Lignes and shows how much this is one of the European Reggae bands to follow in the future.
Before Lauryn Hill touched the stage, the Rototom crew took some time to rightly celebrate their work, with the President Filippo Giunta thanking the 250.000 people who have reached the Festival this year and then saying: “Staying with you all in these days I have seen living in peace, with mutual respect and love, and I thought I'm proud to be part of all this, I feel proud to be your brother. And I am proud and happy to be part of a great team working, with love, to present year after year, a more and more beautiful Rototom.
And I want them with us now”. So all the people from the Rototom team joined him on stage for a well-deserved appreciation.
The moment everyone in the Main Stage area was waiting for finally arrived, but it took quite a long time for Lauryn Hill to appear on stage. The crowd was entertained by Lauryn Hill’s DJ who surprisingly played lots of new reggae stuff like Chronixx, Protoje and Jah9.
The audience wanted to hear a different voice though, and when the band dropped the notes of Soul Rebel we all realized that the long wait was over. Lauryn arrived on stage in a white dress and immediately played two of her most famous songs, Zion and Lost Ones, with the latter approached with a very fast and aggressive style. We have to say that the first part of the set was a bit under the expectations, with Lauryn and the band having a few technical problems and the new versions of her classic catalogue didn’t really connect with the people.
The turning point of the show was the short acoustic part when she embraced her guitar and started Oh Jerusalem we all felt that her voice was finally hitting us, and that sensation reached its peak on Turn Your Lights Down Low, with Lauryn singing Bob Marley’s part and deejaying her own. From here on her show had a totally different pace and strength: Zealots, Fu-Gee-La, Ready Or Not (my personal best of her show) and all the biggest tunes from The Fugees era were greeted with enthusiasm, then Lauryn went on some more Marley’s repertoire with Is This Love, Could You Be Loved and Jamming and concluded her much anticipated show with the brand new Black Rage and her mega hit That Thing.
We honestly had mixed feelings about her show and the first part full of problems was not her best introduction to the Rototom people, but in the end her show grew higher and higher with intensity and class and in the end witnessing Lauryn Hill live was definitely an historical moment.
We took one more Dub Academy session before reaching back to our tent with the early lights of the morning. Rototom was an amazing experience and it’s a Festival that truly deserves to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest.
Until next year, farewell Rototom!