Welcome To Jamrock... as cold as the Christmas breeze


By: Joseph Cunningham
Photography By: Milton Raynor


The show was touted to be perhaps one of the best in December, a period in Jamaica when stage shows are historically plenty. Unfortunately for all concerned with the event, Welcome to Jamrock failed to deliver. The good things about the event were that band changes were quick, and it began and ended at the times advertised.


When YardFlex arrived at the Constant Spring Football Field, we were greeted by the sounds of Etana, who lived up to her ever growing reputation as a "social commentary" artist. She delivered her most popular single, "Roots," that brings to mind the question, where is my true spiritual calling? Etana performed the single to decent response from the audience.


Tarrus Riley followed, and he was in good "nic" while delivering all his popular songs, including, "Beware," "She's Royal," and "Stay With You." He received mild approval from the audience, when he infused spontaneous lyrics into his performance.


Truth be told, it appeared that the audience was like a child being forced to consume food too quickly. The show contradicted Dancehall tradition, a culture in which audiences are teased and appetized at stage shows before headline acts are called to perform. "It's all happening too fast," said one patron who stood exactly in front of the stage. She added, "And the times the artistes get to perform are so short!"

The show was held at a venue close to upscale communities, and so the
documented 9:00 pm start and 2:00 am end had to be adhered to, regardless, patrons did not seem to care. A strong police presence was also obvious.


Moments close to mid-night, what appeared to be strong contingents of
young men were observed entering the venue. Needless to say, Bounty Killer, Dancehall's foremost gangster deejay had entered the venue. During his arrival, Collie Buddz was failing miserable. At no point during his 20 minute set did he ignite the audience. Further, his delivery was lacking and patrons struggled to hear what he was "trying hard" to say.

His set ended, and MC, Paula Ann Porter-Jones quickly reappeared onstage in an obvious attempt to keep the audience interested in the proceedings.

She announced quickly, "We are gonna have a quick band change, but don't go anywhere, the big, bad deejay is next."


The band change ended, and when Paula Ann Porter began the Killers' introduction, patrons who had wondered away for refreshments were seeing running hastily to get as close to the stage as possible. Bounty Killer was not "cross", and so he performed more like the "five star general". He delivered hits from his huge catalog, and made a few jabs at Beenie Man, this to the amusement of the audience.


Damian "Junior Gong" Marley followed, and he gave a performance featuring a well prepared backing band, and a string of surprise appearances which included his brother Steven, Bounty Killer, Busy Signal and Elephant Man. Junior Gong's set was characterized by songs selected from his various albums.