On the final day of the Reggae Festival it did not seem like those in attendance wanted it to end. Despite it being a Sunday, Montrealers and others turned out in the same numbers as they had on Friday night. Some of that is due to the annual construction holiday at this time every year, but most of it was due to the quality of the acts playing at this year's festival. On each night they brought in interesting supporting acts for us to discover and great headliners who we know and love.
The steamy heat of the day was somewhat more tolerable at the Old Port and so it was the perfect venue. While a nice breeze was coming in off the water, we were entertained by some great musical acts. Once again it was a jammed packed night of music. We arrived at 8:00 in time to see female vocalist Antoinette take the stage. This British native sang for 15 minutes and had the crowd swaying to her beautiful voice doing renditions of songs such as, Come Into My Life.
Next up was international reggae star, Maxi Priest. Even though he was not the final act, for me, he was the headliner. This Brit has recorded 10 albums over the span of a 20-year career and is one of the better-known reggae artists internationally. His sound is a mix of reggae with some pop music melodies thrown in. He has collaborated with Shaggy, Sly and Robbie, Roberta Flack, Shabba Ranks, and Beanie Man. What this means is that the man is definitely respected by his peers in the music industry, as there is no hesitation to work with him. A secure veteran performer he brought another reggae vet, Red Fox up on stage with him to help him out with some of the vocals. He was in constant motion, dreds flying all through his 60 minute set. The man has a good voice that is perfectly suited for this type of music. Knowing how to work a crowd, he was constantly asking to hear the crowd (especially the ladies) and he continuously got roars in return. This was my first time seeing this performer live and I can really understand why he is so popular.
After Maxi Priest left the stage following his too short set, fresh from her performance at the previous evening's after hours party, was Jamaican Tanya Stephens. Tanya is very talkative and provocative on stage. But she has the talent and songs to back it up. Just like the singer the songs are provocative as well. They cover the subjects of social commentary all the way to relationships. She certainly is one confident performer. Her songs included Good Ride, What's the Story, Can't Eat, Can't Sleep, Can't Breathe, and 'Til the Day I Die. Montreal native Faith Antoine was next. She has been singing since she was 6 years old and even though she is still young you can certainly tell she has been singing for years. Antoine sang I Still Believe, I Am Not My Hair (India.Arie cover) and Jammin' (Stevie Wonder cover). After her, for a change of pace, spoken word artist Mutabaruka took the stage. He really got the crowd going and lighting their lighters with his unique style of poetry. During his 20 minutes on stage he spoke of equality, class issues, black issues, poverty, peace, violence against women, and a myriad of other subjects. His poetry will make you think, feel and smile all at once. Quite an accomplishment! Last up was reggae legend Barrington Levy. A return performer (he was also at last year's festival), this man has been around for 20 years and continues to remain popular within the reggae community. He has been the inspiration for many a dancehall act that has come after him. The 'Mellow Canary' has a voice that is smooth and clear. Dressed all in white from head to toe, he worked the stage like the pro that he is. Levy was a nice upbeat ending to a great day of music.
Again it was unfortunate that the night has to end around 11:00. C'mon! As the famous song says, "We could have danced all night". Though it was over too quickly we still went away full of the good vibes imparted on us by an evening full of reggae music.
Maxi Priest's Setlist:
1) If I Get Your Number
2) You Don't Know How it Feels
3) You Get the Best of Me
4) Just A Little Bit Longer
5) Wild World
6) Believe in Love
7) Some Guys Have All the Luck (Rod Stewart cover)
8) Love is Insisting
9) Close to You
10) On and On