Buju, Beres bring the curtain down on Sumfest 2019
Buju Banton performs at Reggae Sumfest 2019 at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, St James on Sunday morning. (PHOTOS: Marlon Reid)
Veteran entertainers Beres Hammond and Buju Banton brought down the curtain on Reggae Sumfest 2019 with sterling performances on Sunday morning at Catherine Hall in Montego Bay, St James.
Reggae crooner Beres wooed and won the crowd with love ballads in an hour, while Banton won the hearts of the masses at the facility and probably hundreds of thousands more that watched the live streaming, with his catalogue that stretches back to the early 1990s.
Both electrified the crowd but were just a part of the well put together Sumfest entertainment package for Festival Night Two, with the tens of thousands that gathered for the event staying deep into Sunday morning, until Banton, the last act, performed a major part of his one-and-a-half-hour set.
With the show beginning closer to the advertised time than Festival Night One, the promoters Downsound Entertainment possibly prevented a repeat of the previous morning, when police pulled the plug before the two scheduled closing acts - rising deejays Chronic Law and Squash 6ix Boss - graced the stage.
The transitions from artistes as well as band changes were very smooth with a tight schedule that included Dalton Harris, Christopher Martin and Romain Virgo, all former Digicel Rising Stars winners, who have kept themselves in the entertainment spotlight.
All three had the ladies screaming and delivered with well put together sets, although Martin claimed on stage that his performance time was shortened.
Another top performance came from Protoje who got help from some of his singing friends in swaying the crowd into his corner with loud appreciative cheers. The conscious reggae toaster's 45-minute set included collaborations with Jesse Royal, Sevana, Lila Ike, Agent Sasco and international superstar Chronixx.
In his set, Beres was irresistible to the ladies as he toyed with them throughout the more than 20-song performance that included hits stretching back approximately five decades.
The appreciated audience sang and danced to tunes such as 'Every Time I Think Of Saying Goodbye', 'Can't Stop A Man', 'Come Back Home', 'One Dance' and 'Step Aside', which turned up the decibel level of the venue that erupted with the blowing of vuvuzelas.
He also delivered with 'I Wish', 'I Feel Good', 'She Loves Me Now', 'Double Trouble', 'Putting Up A Resistance', 'Many Tried', 'Sweet Life', 'Tempted To Touch' and 'Full Attention', all of which had the ladies in a tizzy.
The expected start of Banton's performance was greeted with the areas in front of the stage swelling to the fullest for the night and the entertainer, who in December last year was released from prison in the United States, did not disappoint.
Banton had songs for everybody, as he delivered for the ladies songs such as 'Only Man', 'Sha La La' and 'Champion' but also drew on his conscious melodies with 'Destiny', 'Not An Easy Road', 'Close One Yesterday', 'Give I Strength' and 'Hills and Valleys'.
Buju also left the audience to sing to their hearts' content in some of the songs. The most notable was after taking off his shoes before the start of 'Untold Stories' as he said it is about to let him fall. Banton sat on a speaker on stage and uttered the first few notes of the song and allowed the crowd to sing until the second verse.
Meanwhile, Harris used the occasion to relive some moments in his X Factor win last year in England, and also used songs to 'clarify' some controversial events that took place during the course of the competition. He delivered new songs of his own that enticed the audience but got arguably the loudest cheers of the night with his cover of Whitney Houston's 'I Have Nothing', which was used also unleashed during X Factor.
In between opening with his version of Sam Smith's 'Stay With Me' and closing with the National Anthem, Virgo had two guest performers - Agent Sasco and Tisha, a girl he said he saw on YouTube singing one of his songs. Both were a hit with the crowd but it was Tisha's performance of a song about "dutty men" troubling girls who are "more than two times their daughter in age", that really ignited the gathering.
Martin appeared to complain about time docked from his set, but he scored with the audience through songs such as 'Big Deal', 'Paper Loving', 'Don't Let Me Cheat On My Girlfriend' and 'Mama'.
Etana and Jah9 also delivered solid sets, with early acts Jovexx and Faice and Dre Zee also impressing.