- Pepsi Rebel Salute, a musical blast, led by Beres Hammond, Mavado and I-Octane
By Adrian Frater, News Editor
Reggae's premier crooner Beres Hammond showed off his undeniable class, charisma and versatility in emphatic style at Port Kaiser, St Elizabeth, on Saturday night when he left the audience at Pepsi Rebel Salute 18 in ecstasy with a dazzling performance laced with friendly interactions with the fans.
However, had Beres not been in such fine fettle, the honours for the night could well have gone to either the silky smooth Mavado, who performed out of character as David Brooks; and the red-hot I-Octane, who continues to advertise himself as a major international star in the making.
Beres came, saw and conquered, especially his adorning female fans, who showed absolutely no inhibitions as they screamed and danced while he masterfully belted out songs such as No Disrespect, One , Come Back Home, Tempted To Touch, Double Trouble and Putting Up Resistance as he dug generously into his catalogue of hits.
When Beres departed the stage after several bouts of friendly banter between himself and the audience, along with the crisp delivery of the hits songs Feel Good, Let Them Talk and Rockaway, it wasn't to be his last.
The audience demanded more and got the completion of Rockaway and snippets of other songs as an encore.
Mavado was a revelation and must have made scores of new fans with his mature set, which was devoid of his trademark gangster songs.
In fact, the singjay, who was regally clad in a military-style outfit, was more like a seasoned cultural artiste than the gun-lyrics-spewing Gully Gad.
All and sundry reacted with glee as Mavado skilfully wove his way through the lyrics of songs such as On the Rock, Hope and Pray, So Special and Jah Jah is Coming Soon against a backdrop of loud screams of approval from even the very strict turban-clad Boboshanti Rastafarians.
The screams for an encore from Mavado were almost a given.
Although he played almost another full set, to include songs such as Starlight, Again and Again and Messiah as his encore, the fans demanded a second - which, of course, was not possible.
I-Octane, who shared the vast majority of his set with singjay Zamunda, was most compelling and left no doubt that his stocks are rising.
In a most pleasing musical onslaught, the young singer reeled off many hits, leaving some fans all but delirious with excitement.
That state of almost-delirium was caused by songs like My Life, Fake Friends, Mama You Alone, Puff It and Lose a Friend.
Zamunda showed what he was worth, joining in on some of those songs.
While Beres, Mavado and I-Octane were the dominant acts, they were not the only ones to shine on a night when brilliance was commonplace.
In the early segment, which featured mostly veteran artistes, singers Hopeton James, AJ Brown, the lyrically potent Romain Virgo and the legendary Ken Boothe, along with deejays Lone Ranger, Dennis Alcapone, dancehall standouts Little John, Tristan Palmer and Jack Raddicks all delivered quality sets.
While they both played limited sets, the Flames duo of songbird Queen Ifrika and promoter Tony Rebel also contributed to the rich diet of pulsating music.
Queen Ifrika's performance began with a breathtaking introduction by Broadcasting Commission boss, Cordell Green.
Tarrus Riley and the legendary Toots and the Maytals, provided contrasting performances, which served up exceptional entertainment.
Toots was laid back but meticulous, combining potent vocals with solid instrumental work.
The latter part of the show, which featured Junior X, Spanner Bonner, Fantan Mojah and Chuck Fendah was somewhat lacking in intensity.
Chuck Fendah, for instance, must have regretted performing alongside Fantan Mojah, who somewhat stifled him by hogging the show and trying to grab all the time for himself.
Special mention must be made of United States-based female deejay Sister Carol, singer Nadine Sutherland, comical deejay Professor Nuts and the dazzling Stevie Face, who all created significant impact while playing limited sets.