This time, last week (23/11/14), one of the most anticipated concerts of the year took place at The Troxy in London. Brought to us, courtesy of promotional company LB Entertainments, the event was headlined by Lovers Rock crooner Sanchez, flanked by Etana, Aysha Loren, Cassandra London and Chardel.
Popular radio personalities Daddy Ernie (above), Bobo El Numero Uno and Robbo Ranx co-hosted the evening. Not only did they display heart-warming camaraderie towards one another, but also bantered with the audience, keeping them engaged and entertained at all times. Their collective professionalism and charisma served as a reminder of why they are so well liked and respected within the music industry.
On that note, DJs Allan Brando, Roy Medallion, Gemi-In Ting Magic, Kayak Audio and Commander B did a fantastic job of keeping the audience swaying along with their selection of tunes, throughout the intervals.
First up was North-West London native Chardel, who walked like a champion in a shiny gold cat-suit. Perhaps this striking choice of colour was an allusion to her recent victory in the UK’s Reggae Star Factor talent search competition. Either way, this beauty captivated the audience with tune after tune, including a self-penned ode to reggae music itself, ‘Bassline’.
Cassandra London’s powerhouse voice prevailed throughout her set, despite some technical issues (left). In the spirit of true professionalism, she made light of the situation and remarked “ah so it go sometime, y’know?” – pressing on until it was eventually rectified. London sung tracks such as ‘Just Cool’ which has been enjoying local airplay on stations such as Vibes FM.
Trailblazer Aysha Loren delivered some songs from her EP such as ‘Keep It Like It Is’ (currently featured on VP Records’ compilation CD – ‘Strictly The Best Vol. 50’ ), ‘At Last’ and ‘Gone Boy’. Given that the latter track samples ‘Ain’t That Loving You’ – made famous to most reggae enthusiasts by Alton Ellis – it was only befitting that she invite his son Christopher Ellis onstage. Needless to say, the audience went wild as Chris delivered the classic in his silky smooth way.
As Etana (right) sauntered onstage with her shoulders back and head held high singing ‘Rastaman Chant’, a mellow, ital ambience filled the air. Offering the audience other spiritual tracks such as ‘Fly Away’ and ‘Rivers of Babylon’, she then began to unpack favourites from her back catalogue of hits including ‘Wrong Address’, ‘Reggae’, ‘Jah Jah Blessing’ and ‘I Am Not Afraid’.
Sanchez arrived onstage in style – a long, brown fur coat, to be exact – to a thundering ovation. I nearly lost an eye after being elbowed viciously by a hormonal, over excited middle-aged woman who was trying to capture this moment on her camera phone. It had been just over five years since he had last performed in London and he was obviously missed! He did not disappoint; nor was he short of songs to serenade the audience with from ‘Frenzy’ and ‘Never Diss The Man’ to ‘Sometimes’ and ‘One In Million’.
Unfortunately, there were precisely two moments where Sanchez dramatically stormed offstage, due to being irked by some technical problems.
Aside from that, the star gave a consistently good performance and he was vocal about his appreciation for his fans. He is one of those artists who has great stamina and sounds exactly the same live as he does on a record.
A proud patriot, Sanchez sang the Jamaican National anthem and was greeted with a show of lighters and hands in the air. What’s more, the ‘Missing You’ singer paid tribute to the recently departed legend that is Sir John Holt and sung a track from the late Dennis Emmanuel Brown. The set was closed on a spiritual note with a gospel medley which included his famous rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’.
A great time was had by all who attended this concert. Even the queues at the bar ran in a smooth and orderly fashion, with some of the staff rocking away! Positive vibrations reverberated, much like sound of the instruments played by the UK’s Soul Rebel Band who backed most of the artists.
From Soul Rebel to half of the line-up, the concert was a wholesome representation of talent from within the UK and out. What’s more, the spotlight that was shone on female artists was indelible; women have always played an integral part in the progression of the male-dominated reggae scene. These particular facets of the evening should be acknowledged because it embodies the spirit of “equal rights and justice” which is what reggae is all about.