The second day of Uppsala Reggae Festival was a night of highs and lows, from big acts to smaller ones. But the night belonged to the reggae veterans – from Abyssinians and Bunny Wailer who have been in the business since the 60’s to Midnite and Peetah and Gramps Morgan, who started in the later half of the 80’s.
The elderly gentlemen behind monster tune Satta Massagana made for Friday’s high point. Their concert was backed by a young and hungry band with live saxophone and trombone who treated the audience to lots of great music from their well filled treasure chest, for example Declaration of Rights with its haunting organ and three versions of Satta Massagana. The last version bursts out into a bass pumping percussion extravaganza by Bernard Collins and the Manning brothers.
The big disappointment was VI roots reggae pioneers Midnite. Their concert began ten to seven, ten minutes ahead of schedule. This probably surprised many of the attendants, and although some rushed to the area, it never got crowded below the stage. This was perhaps also due to Midnite’s lack of energy, humour and vitality. Front man and lead singer Vaughn Benjamin seemed distant and may as well have been sitting in his car singing songs of freedom, oppression and propaganda to himself. Sure, Midnite’s music is introvert and unusually monotonous, which makes it difficult to convey live. However, it doesn’t get better when they insist on playing all their songs at full-length, which means no more than ten songs in 70 minutes. Not surprising, the audience decided to do something else.
This evening’s biggest surprise was Voicemail, a dancehall outfit on European tour to honour their recently deceased member O’Neil Edwards. The group tours with talented songstress Alaine who charmed the audience for the first part of the concert. When Voicemail took the stage they showed amazing energy and skilled showmanship, and got the entire audience to follow almost every move or call and response they made. It actually seemed like a very few wanted to leave the tent scene when Bunny Wailer entered the main stage.