The first night of Rebel Salute’s 27th staging was shaping up to be pretty lukewarm until Park Lane’s finest erupted the crowd at 5 a.m.
Beloved crooner Sanchez started the ignition at Grizzly’s Plantation Cove in St Ann with a bevy of popular covers, including Lonely Won’t Leave Me Alone and Missing You, as well as his own gems like Pretty Girl and I Can’t Wait.
“A from 1988 til now a so we always a wake up the place.”— Daddy Lizard
His blazer went left as the singing maestro got down to business, causing many patrons to get out of their seats and groove away, and it wasn’t long before a choir ensued.
The 1980s time warp of the ‘Red Hills reign’ happened when Flourgon, who had performed earlier, re-entered the stage. The childhood neighbours performed one of their many collabs, Mi Love Mi Girl Bad, before engaging in a ‘tune-fi-tune’ round with Flourgon dropping tracks like Bounce to the uproar of fans. The cheers heightened with the appearance of Daddy Lizard, who sealed the deal with Run Girl Run.
“That was spontaneous, we never planned that. But a from 1988 til now a so we always a wake up the place,” Lizard told BUZZ. “A couple show now we beat dem, but true dem nuh see we yah suh…a we same one, fresh and young.”
The three artistes (alongside late deejay Red Dragon) showered the spotlight on their Park Lane, Red Hills, community in the 80s and 90s, leading to the naming of streets in their honour in 2018.
Meanwhile, the most sentimental Rebel Salute performance came from Ugandan act and politician, Bobi Wine, whose interludes encouraged unity, self-development and national pride. Touted to be the next president of Uganda, Bobi Wine was in lock-up days before his second Rebel Salute appearance. According to the singer, his bid for presidency is seen as a threat to what he describes as oppressive leadership in his country.
“What I’m saying now is what I’ve been singing about for more than 15 years so there’s no difference between life and music,” he told BUZZ. “We artistes are the representation of society, we are the mirror of society. After singing about it for a long time and they were not doing anything, I decided to get involved and do it myself.”
During the performance, he dipped in his revolutionist repertoire with songs like Freedom and Uganda Zukuka, and gave the crowd a taste of some ‘African deejay style’, as he toasted over an old-school rhythm.
Also giving a memorable performance was veteran act Toots Hibbert, who revealed he was not used to performing for less than an hour, but had to make due based on the time restrictions imposed this year to prevent a prolonged show.
“I don’t remember when last I performed in Jamaica, I’m hardly here,” he said. “I don’t perform so short, I’m used to singing for two, three, even five hours, and I am usually drenched in sweat after. I didn’t sweat tonight, but people believe my performance was good so once they say so I am good with that.”
Alongside the Maytals, Hibbert’s stint oozed much soul and spunk, pleasing the crowd with perennial favourites like Sweet and Dandy, Bam Bam and 54-46 That’s My Number.
See highlights from night one of Rebel Salute in the gallery below.
Rebel Salute had its comedy segment debut this year, and Christopher ‘Johnny’ Daley proved to be the right pick. Spilling satirical tales of his come up from being in a group to going solo, Daley held the crowd’s attention while making them laugh.
“Tony Rebel performed after me and that was deliberate,” Daley told BUZZ. “He said he was going to take a chance on me, and I said: ‘Rebel, you know why you asked me to do it’ and he said ‘absolutely’, and I made him know we’re good then. He literally said to me tonight, ‘awesome’ and that’s all I needed to hear cause I know how much work he puts into this production.”
Other performers included Leroy Sibbles, Terry Linen, Chi Ching Ching, Steel Pulse and Singing Melody, who inspired occasional cheer, ‘insta-story’ moments and some skanking here and there.
First-time patron and Croatian Zoki was not disappointed.
“My friends told me the show is so great, organised and the music is great so I said why not come,” he said. “I didn’t know any of the artistes, but I liked it a lot. I think we’re coming back tomorrow.”
Return patron Janice agreed.
“I came from London and I had to return because it was good the last time. I have no favourites from the show, I just like to hear reggae music,” she said.