Usually those are the words chosen by the festival organizers to drum up support and create hype, but on this occasion, not even the chairman could have expected a concert that would truly be as electrifying as last night’s dynamic production of hits after hits, by Yellow Man, Cocoa Tea, Maxi Priest, Black Rhyno, Konshens, Demarco and Gyptian.
It was absolutely a night to be remembered and could very well hit the record books of the festival as one of the best “reggae nights”.
The night however belonged to Cocoa Tea and Gyptian.
After a slow trek of fans into the stadium in time to see Yellow Man as the opening act, just before 9:00pm, some two hours after, the Warner Park Cricket Stadium was invaded by thousands of Music Festival supporters, packing the stands, grounds, hospitality suites and every available space of the venue. It would appear that someone forgot to tell Kittitians and Nevisians and visitors who made up the massive crowd that a recession was on. Many had thought that given the present economic conditions, crowd support for the festival would have been poor, but this certainly was not the case Friday night.
They were not disappointed because, the “little man”, as Cocoa Tea calls himself, delivered a powerful, entertaining and dramatic performance that earned him one of the longest encores in recent times. The fans seemed unwilling to allow him to exit the stage and sensing that he had already gone way past his scheduled time, he appealed to the crowd to let him make room for the other artistes billed to appear after.
Dressed in a champagne coloured waist coat, with blue jeans, black-white-red “Rasta hat”, with his Rasta flag of African colours, Cocoa Tea, pelted out his hit tunes that everyone seemed to have known as the audience sang almost word for word, tune for tune, as a choir specially assembled for the occasion.
He also infused some of Bob Marley’s hits, much to the delight of the crowd who encouraged him on, especially the Rastafarians who turned out in their large numbers, dancing, embracing, singing and having a wonderful time, occupying the best spots, immediately in front of the stage. It was their night.
“Well all de youths dem who come to see Cocoa Tea tonight…well when me done wid St. Kitts, me gon mash up de place,” said the Jamaican reggae icon. “I don’t want all you to get mad wid me tonight, because if I get mad in here tonight, I will turn up de session, and nobody else, (artistes), would want to come out on stage, after such a wonderful performance,” chided the ‘little man’.
“This is the first time I am coming to the St. Kitts Music Festival and I wonder if the promoters were partial, because I no nuh why it took me so long to come here. So I want you fans to send a strong message to the promoters so that they could bring back Cocoa Tea here,” joked the artiste, to his audience who agreed. As the time approached for him to leave, the audience begged for more. He obeyed, much to their delight. When the MC asked if they still wanted more, they shouted back, “we want more Cocoa Tea.”
The audience at the festival is usually one that is willing to engage but it has been a long time since this high level of crowd involvement was experienced.
Other outstanding performances were delivered by Maxi Priest, who was one of the artistes here for the very first festival in 1996, when then he also produced a superb concert.
The many that turned out to see Gyptian were not disappointed because the artiste proved why today he is one of the top rated reggae entertainers anywhere in the world. As he closed his performance, singing his popular hit song, “Hold You” the heavens opened, as if to crown the Friday Night concert with a blessing.
Friday was always billed to be one of the most spectacular evenings, when one looked at the line up for the three nights, and the organizers must be feeling a sense of joy and accomplishment, because expectations turned to reality.
Tonight, Saturday, 25th June, is the final night of the festival, featuring, East Meets West, the Commodores, Fantasia and Jah Cure, in that order.