Summer 2017 has brought the heat and American Express have brought their Summer Series to Somerset House with another diverse line-up of artists. It’s the end of the week, the sun is beaming, there’s a warm breeze and reggae-riddims are bubbling, music lovers couldn’t have wished for more.
Dancehall and reggae DJ David Rodigan delivered classic, smooth punchy roots reggae, kicking-off a spectacular night of music. As the sun continued to shine, the crowd continued to arrive. The reggae vibes filled the air, echoing through the majestic courtyard.
Audience members reminisced and shook-a-foot to the best selection of classic tunes. Rodigan showed his style of showmanship on stage moving away from his decks and encouraging them to embrace the music with tunes like Rastafari Anthem sending the crowd crazy.
Closing his performance with a personal interlude speaking on the history of his rare and exclusive 1975 Bob Marley dubplate (especially recorded tracks with vocals that mention the DJ by name) Kinky Reggae. A special touch to end the evening, linking tonight’s show to a time when Bob lived in London after fleeing his motherland with fears of being assassinated.
A brief performance came from conscious lyricist and singer Black Am I, of the Ghetto Youth Camp. The self-titled track Black Am I and the classic sounds of Living Dread, nicely satisfied the crowd’s anticipation of the ‘Junior Gong’s arrival.
Shortly after Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley entered the stage. Locks flowing, with head held high to the heavy drum beats of Skrillex‘s 2012 track Make It Bun Dem, hitting with high energy from the start. These are exciting times for reggae music and with just two weeks until the release of Damian Marley’s latest studio album Stony Hill, he played some of his new material including Medication which is dedicated to his love of a flower and highlights the criminalisation of its users, giving us a taste of things to come.
Packed with a vast selection of tunes from his 2005 Welcome To Jamrock LP and including tracks from Distance Relatives, the 2010 collaboration with rap legend Nas, Damian Marley left no room for disappointment. The island rhythms rang-out with the sounds of Punky Reggae Party and Road To Zion, flexing against the contrast of this landmark setting. Also included were covers of his father’s classics Could this be love and I wanna love you.
Being in the presence of reggae-royalty brings a special-high to any music lover. Enhanced by social commentary and songs of protest, Damian Marley’s energy had this sell-out show singing-out for more, with a message of love and togetherness.
Keeping their hands held high, lighters or phones shining bright into the summer nights sky the crowd chanted in unison ‘Jamaica Jamaica’ as the familiar bassline of Welcome To Jamrock filled the area, bringing one of many highlights to end the show. A stand-out performance from the ‘Junior Gong’ , who showed his fans much love whilst creating lasting memories. And one last cry from a man holding a cultures pride, ‘Jah Rastafari’.
Nosa Malcolm was at Summer Series at Somerset House for Damian Marley on 7th July 2017