This year, in Cologne (Germany), The SummerJam Reggae Festival celebrated its 30th anniversary. Like every year, it gathered people from all over the world for 3 days paced by the steady rhythm of Reggae music.
View the pictures of the festival:
SummerJam 2015 – Festival Review by Krazy Gyal
Friday 3rd, 2015 – Day 1
It was really hot this weekend in Cologne. Out there under the blazing sun, in front of the Green Stage, a crowd of Reggae fans slowly formed to welcome, Jesse Royal. The latter who opened the festival, performed his most notable hits such as « Modern Day Judas », « Babylon Greedy » and also some of his latest work like « Finally ».
He was followed by the young Reggae crooner Romain Virgo who delivered quite a good performance. He performed his biggest One Drop hits such as the singles « Cyaan Sleep », « I Want To Go Home », « No Money », « Who Feels It Knows It » among many more. Later on, during the press conference he announced that he was currently working on a brand-new album entitled “Love Sick”. The latter should be more personal and featuring exclusively original songs unlike the previous ones, which included a couple of covers.
Meanwhile, the Dancehall artiste Popcaan struggled a little on stage as he was a bit over excited running up and down from left to right. The UK Reggae band Steel Pulse was in charge of closing the curtain on the Green Stage that night. As usual, they performed their same old tunes like « Babylon Makes The Rules », « Nyah Love », « Worth His Weight In Gold », « Steppin Out ».
Before the legendary and highly expected UK-based selector of BBC 1Xtra, David Rodigan, stepped on stage, Mungo’s HiFi followed by Prince Fatty & Horseman set a good old school vibe with early Dancehall and Digital Reggae reminiscent of the 80’s and early 90’s. After, what we could have called a little warm up, David didn’t come to play ! Pun intended. To be in the keeping with the previous sets, he started with some 80’s Dancehall tracks from Supercat and the “Answer Riddim”.
Then, Rodigan really killed it with heavy Modern Dancehall hits such as “Do Sumn” by Konshens, “What If” and “Text Message” by Busy Signal, and more. He juggled some Modern Roots Reggae as well, including Chronixx‘s cover of “Tenement Yard” originally made famous by Jacob Miller and Inner Circle, “Who Knows” by Chronixx featuring Protoje, the “Rootsman Riddim” etc. He just played hit after hit, intertwined with his regular radio host-type of speech when introducing a classic or a brand-new track. It was a real pleasure to see a legend like Rodigan move an entire crowd around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning with such dynamism and so many fresh hits and dubs.
Saturday 4th, 2015 – Day 2
Cham was the first to perform on the Red Stage and he went hard! With a lot of energy and enthusiasm, he delivered big tunes such as “Back Way”, “Another Level”, “Stronger”, “Babylon Bwoy”, “Fighter” and “Ghetto Story”. He also covered some classics like “Could You Be Loved” by Bob Marley, “Will Be There” made famous by Michael Jackson and “Call Me A Yardie” by Stylo G. After introducing the members of his band and an incredible solo performed by his bassist, Cham delivered an insane cover of Eminem‘s 2001 hit “Lose Yourself”.
Alaine warmed up the crowd for Tarrus Riley who was also accompanied by the great Jamaican saxophonist Dean Fraser. As usual, Tarrus Human had a strong presence and a radiant energy on stage. He was very interactive with the crowd that was responding well to his calls in return. He performed a lot of hit songs like his cover of “Human Nature”, “Love’s Contagious”, “Backbiter”, “Superman”, “Wildfire”, “Rebel”, “Sorry Is A Sorry Word”, “Burning Desire” and many more.
When the night had come, the last to perform on the Red Stage was the long awaited international superstar Damian “Junior Gong” Marley who was preceded by young Reggae artist Black Am I. He was watched and acclaimed by such a massive crowd, it was incredible. He delivered hits only: “Make It Bun Dem”, “Welcome To Jamrock”, “Move”, “Beautiful”, “There for u”, “Despair”, “Promise land”, “Could You Be loved”, “Get Up, Stand Up”, “Road to zion”… At the end of the show, Damian got the whole crowd to put their lighters on in the air. It was amazing to see all these lights glowing together as one. Then, Cham joined him on stage to perform “Fighters”. It was a terrific show! I should say it was on fire!
On the side of the Dancehall Arena, it was an all German night with Jugglerz, Sentinel Sound and Pow Pow Movement.
Sunday 5th, 2015 – Day 3
On the third and last day, the festivities started slowly but surely with Protoje and his band The Indiggnation. As usual, he was really cool and laid-back on stage. He performed some of his recent work like “Answer to Your Name” and songs from his latest album such as “Protect”, “Who Can You Call”, “Who Knows” and “Stylin'” but also older tracks like “I Pray” and “Kingston Be Wise”.
Beres Hammond set the stage on fire. Even the rain couldn’t out the flame. It seemed that the applause of the crowd rejuvenated the youth that is in Beres. He got the full attention of the crowd from the start, when he performed the sensational hit song « No Goodbye », until the very end with the sweet “Rockaway”. He delivered hit after hit, like « Kids Play », “Can’t Stop a Man”, “Stay Longer”, « Feel Good », and many more, with such energy. Beres Hammond was one of the best act during this 3-day festival. No wonder why his career has been so consistent through all these years.
Last but not least, Wyclef Jean wrapped up the 3-day festival. After being introduced by a wicked performance of his DJ, who took his shirt off while scratching, the former member of legendary Hip Hop band The Fugees, stepped on stage with a fancy venetian mask and wearing a shiny sportswear suit. He performed The Fugees‘ most classic hit songs such as “Ready Or Not”, “Fu Gee La”, “Killing Me Softly”.
He gave a very inspirational speech. Then, he performed some of his duet hit songs like “911” featuring Mary J Blige and “Hips Don’t Life” featuring Shakira. Wyclef also showed off his skills as a musician, playing bongos, the keyboard and the guitar on stage. The downside of his show was that it looked more like a sound system than a performance of a Grammy Award-winning artist. He played a lot of dubs “to kill sound boys” and chatted a lot like an MC. There was a touch of humour in his performance as he impersonated Michael Jackson and went even as far as saying “if you wonder why I am only playing other people’s sh*t, it’s either because I wrote this sh*t or I produced it”.
As the night was getting cold and the lights were switched off, we were leaving the festival with a certain nostalgia. For 3 days, the area of Fühlinger See had turned into a village that was vibing to Reggae music all day and all night. It was awesome. We hope the next editions will feature line-ups as interesting as this year. We will surely go back.