Where to start. Putting it into perspective, London is one of the closest to being Jamaica outside of Jamaica. Our love and appreciation for reggae, historically, surpasses everywhere in the world possibly even Jamaica. Scala was full to the brim. According to Wiki, Scala's capacity is 1,145. I spent at least 10mins trying to find a space where I could see the stage. Meant I spent most of Christopher Ellis' performance searching for this elusive magical spot. Sounded lively though.
Hold on, lemme try put into words how packed it was. Scala sold out three times (I'm guessing they gave access to different parts of the venue when they saw the demand) and tickets were still sold on the door. Each time we tried one of (about three/four) the entrances to the main room and balcony, someone bounced out upon opening the door because they were already squashed against the door. Come like Jack in the box. Or black in the box cos it was usually a black face. I can say that and not be classed as racist cos I'm black, nig... na, that's going to far.
Roadblock event (people were turned away after a while) was predominantly black ranging from old Rastas to male yout's in their 20s and females (in their body con dresses from the "raving outfits" side of the wardrobe). For a genre that supposedly doesn't attract young black people, there were a lot of young black folk in there.
So we finally find this spot behind the soundman (sound engineer. Although I did hear a Jamaican fella say "Yeah man, mi deh behind di selector".) DJ wasn't really playing the right tunes for me. Modern slow-tempo dancehall stuff (you know it when you hear it) when I wanted them big anthems to warm the place as opposed really new stuff (less than 2 months) vast majority of the crowd don't know. I could hear the DJ before Chris Ellis playing the classics when I was at the bar outside.
Anyway, boom, we're there now catching a little vibe. Air's smelling nice, anticipation building, DJ plays couple dancehall tunes like Super Cat "Vineyard Party" and Buju Banton "Driver" much to the increasing crowds delight. Yes, increasing. No idea where these people were (still) coming from or where they ended up. Weren't near me so everything bless, uzeet?
Kelissa blessed the stage before Chronixx. Sang couple, couple tunes, lit a quick flame, big up Africa and left the stage. (Her performance is a lot more involved than that, still.) Her voice was a bit light, but the words them were potent. This was a nice warmer into the flipping forthcoming arson attack. No Dre Island by the way. Slightly disappointed cos I wanted to sing my heart out to Rastafari Way.
Big man time now. Robbo Ranx said there's been a fire burning in Jamaican reggae (as spoken about (by i & i) here) before boldly introducing the night's headline act as the future of reggae. (Big up Robbo, still, I first heard "Behind Curtain" on his show.) So, boom now, remember 1Xtra performance when Chronixx took to the stage real calm with "Smile Jamaica"? None of that this time. Right into the Start a Fyah tour wiiiiiith.... You guessed it, "Start A Fyah". Decked in full white and cream from suit to Clarks boot, the 21-year old began his assault quicker than I expected. Even took time out to give a special bu'n out to the Pope. Big forward for that.
Next song surprised the hell out of me. Until recently, I thought I was the only person that liked "Dread". Didn't expect it on the set list nor did I expect the huge reaction it received. Only 40k views on YouTube which is really small when you consider that's available to the world. Seemed like without the (around) 1,000 people (I'm guessing here) in there, it'd only be on 39,000. Everyone from the old Rasta's in attendance to the young bald head's sang the chorus as one united by the powers of the Rastafari.
Flashing new lyrics during "Dread", sounds like he sent a grenade under Snoop Lion on the night but wasn't too sure. He says "Man anuh Snoop Doggy Dizzle" just as the crowd goes wild so I can't make out the lyrics after
Another song I didn't realise the popularity of is "Modern Warfare". If the previous songs made us spiritual, this one sent a big Yoga flame to those in power sending people's pickney to fight their wars. Proper Occupy, fist in the air, "Bun Babylon" (we don't say "Fxxk the power" in reggae. They don't say it in hip hop anymore. Just realised) moment as the crowd cheered in agreement with Chronixx's speech about the powers that be taking us fi some little eedyat's on their mission to achieve one way of life - their way. (You can see the crowd in this video.)
Another early one, "They Don't Know" preceded recent uplifting anthem "Ain't No Giving In" sprinkled with Kabaka Pyramid's "No Capitalist". You can watch that performance below.
I've decided to stop breaking down the base. It's so much better when you don't know about it in minute-by-minute detail before you see them. He'll be back as soon as (they said next Summer at the end of the show). From now on, videos mi seh!
Fantastic tribute to the beautiful island "Smile Jamaica"
including the speech of the night about inspiration to write the song followed by Tony Rebel's (unofficial national anthem) "Sweet Jamaica"
During the dub breakdown (common feature) on "Here Comes Trouble" the talented artist gives a little beat on the bongo drums.
"Behind Curtain" - probably the biggest moment of the night.
"Warrior" moved smoothly into "Odd Ras"
Ended with a medley over "Odd Ras" of dancehall toasting, Supercat's rude boy classic "Ghetto Red Hot" and finally "Rivers of Babylon" which we all sang along to. Obviously. Listen to the noise.
Every song was met with a crazy response. Two things I would've done differently are better entrance (walk out while singing "Start A Fyah") and an encore (leave stage after Behind Curtain, then "Warrior" and "Odd Ras" for encore). All in all the night proved there isn't a genre in the world that will give you lovers, political and spiritual music to dance to on the level of reggae.
It is near-unbelivable that a reggae artist can headline a show with just over a year under his belt let alone draw out that many people. While the comparisons to Bob Marley's now legendary Lyceum Theatre performance may be slightly premature, we probably felt like they did at the Bob show back then that something special just happened.
His next show will be a bigger venue. Know that will sell even more now everyone's heard he can put on an incredible show.
Alternatively, you can listen to me talk about the monumental occasion on Joe Grime's Deja Vu show (Tuesday 2-4pm)
Listen to the show below. I enter the dance at around 1hr 21mins mark.
They're trying to wash out reggae, but so long as the spirit in people lives, reggae can't die. Chronixx proved why he is the man everyone is excited about. Big up Maverick Sabre in the place. Hold tight the big wigs also present in the place. Do the right thing.
Look out for his forthcoming EP. You can buy his singles on iTunes, Amazon and all them ones.
Big up Danny Pepperseed, WorldAReggae.com and whoever uploaded ones from their phones for the videos.
Hoooo my days, this champion uploaded 20mins worth of London footage
"Smile Jamaica" x "Selassie Soljahz"
"Selassie Souljahz" x Sizzla medley x dub x "Here Comes Trouble"