On the first weekend of August, we attended the Reggae Geel in Belgium. The European festival celebrated its 45th anniversary. For the occasion, they gathered a solid line-up as usual.
It was a quite special event for us also, as it was the last festival we had covered before Covid and it is the festival first we’ve covered after the lockdown.
Day 1 at Reggae Geel 2023
The first day started under the shy light of the sun. It was marked by the strong presence of female performers. To begin with, we ate some Thai food before going to the Main Stage to catch up Nattali Rize‘s performance.
During Johnny Osbourne & Lone Ranger‘s performance, the crowd began to grow slowly. The Dancehall Godfather delivered hits such as “Buddy Bye,” “Water Pumping,” and of course “Truth & Rights”.
After the sun had set, it was Marcia Griffiths‘s turn to step onto the main stage. The Queen of Reggae performed songs of her own, such as “Young, Gifted and Black,” but she also covered a few songs of passed Reggae artists. Her rendition of “Dreamland,“ originally performed by Bunny Wailer. She was followed by Tanya Stephens.
Mr Vegas lit up the stage
The vibe started to get hotter when Mr Vegas came in. He lit up the stage with a highly energetic performance. As he was dancing on a speaker, he accidentally fell off stage. For a few seconds, we thought this might be the end of the show, but he stood up quickly, and went on as if nothing happened.
He performed some of his biggest hits such as “Heads High,” “Go Up,” “Tamale,” “Pull Up,” “Bruck It Down,” “Wine With It,” and “I am Blessed,” to name a few. I must admit, that never had I ever enjoyed so much his Dancehall Gospel anthem as that night.
Tarrus Riley rocked the night away with Lovers Rock
To wrap up the night on the Main Stage, Tarrus Riley performed with his long-time collaborator, the Jamaican saxophonist, Dean Fraser. He rocked the night away nicely and smoothly with his Lovers Rock and classic Reggae hits such as “Getty Getty No Want It,” “She’s Royal,” “Rebel,” “Sorry,” and also his Dancehall collad with Konshens “Good Girl Done Bad.”
Chi Ching Ching levelled the vibes
The nigh was not yet over at Reggae Geel though. As soon as Tarrus left the stage, we moved to the Dancehall Bounce to see Chi Ching Ching. The energy over there was at another level, even at passed 1:00am in the morning. The Dancehall Deejay invited people on stage to dance to “Vaccine.” After people left the stage, he pursued entertaining the crowd with terrific club bangers such as “Roping.”
The grass had turned to mud due to the heavy rain of the past days, it was a bit cold but it was a great night.
Day 2 at Reggae Geel 2023
The second day began under the rain. Unfortunately, we had reached a little too late to get int he pit for pictures but we haven’t missed Micah Shemaiah’s whole show.
It was the very first time we saw him perform as well as Yaksta, and Ras I who followed him. We were agreeably surprised by the quality of those artists on stage.
Before Jesse Royal came on the Main Stage, we took some time to wander around and went to the Dub Forest. Dennis Bovell was having a good time there mixing while sipping his beer. People was enjoying the set same way in the chill place that is the forest.
The rain was going on and off, but it wasn’t as bad as we expected. The energy was still there, and people came in numbers.
Jesse Royal performed before Richie Spice. They both delivered satisfying acts. singing some of their respective hits such as “Modern Day Judas” for Jesse Royal, and “Black Like A Tar,” “Brown Skin” and “Youths Dem So Cold.”
Linval Thompson, really and truly amazing
During the break on the Main Stage, we went to the Dub Forest again. While walking towards the forest, I heard a song of Linval Thompson. I thought to myself that a great record. But, guess what? It was actually Linval Thompson performing live on stage alongside the Spanish producer Roberto Sanchez. It was not the first time that we saw Linval perform on the stage, but every time, we are amazed by his vocal presence. Really, and truly.
Chilling in the Dub Forest
In back stage, we brought a record produced by Dennis Bovell to get it signed. Holding this copy of “Me Cyaa Believe It” by Michael Smith brought back some memories to him. He recalled the days when the album was produced. With emotions, he told his young friend who had came to check him out how ironically, Michael Smith was stoned to death at Stony Hill back in the days.
Mad Professor was hanging out back stage as well to watch Linval’s show. We exchanged a few words with him about his 2018 show with Lee Perry and U Roy in Sète, France. He confided to us that it this show was special to him. Indeed, it was the very last he had with both legends before they passed away.
Later on, Grammy-award winning artist Kabaka Pyramid stepped on the Main Stage. He did shorter yet similar set as in Paris earlier this year. Except this time, Sara Lugo couldn’t join him on stage to perform “High & Windy”.
Before Burning Spear came on stage, we went to the Dancehall Bounce to catch the vibe. Tessellated was MC-ing while MTV host Becca-D was mixing. As usual, it was very hot over there. The duo complemented each other very well and the crowd enjoyed the show to the fullest. Last but least, the great Burning Spear performed on the Main stage to wrap up two days of festival.
Two days don’t seem that much, but the Reggae Geel always put up a nice line-up that isn’t limited to Reggae, but also includes Dancehall. The Dub Forest and the Dancehall Bounce offer radically different vibes. The festival features are a various line-up, it’s not too long, neither too large. That’s the real charm of it. We’ll surely go catch a vibe at Reggae Geel one more time.