It was a hot and airless night, on National Rum Day, presenting an evening of live music and sweet cocktails. More so it appealed to those who recall the hit reggae/dancehall releases of the ’90s era ,and indeed the work of Wayne Wonder, the event’s headliner.
A steady trickle of patrons gradually filled the event dubbed Murray’s Appleton Estate Chillin’; some of whom were unaware of the live show but stopped by to grab a bite to eat at the roadlside getaway. They ended up benefiting from the happy hour serving of Appleton Estate Signature mixes, drink deals and entertainment.
As the backing bands headed to the stage for sound check, so did the audience while some of the night’s performers also made an early appearance for the 9 p.m. showtime.
Wayne Wonder found a tree close to the stage to silently observe the musicians tune their instruments and said, “Now I’m zoning in.” For the Watching You singer, this was his way of getting prepared to perform.
“This is what I do; hold a meditation and think over the set that I’m going to do, memorising as the band prepares,” he told The Gleaner. The opening acts, Jovi Rockwell and Sky Grass Band, moved closer to the well-lit stage, hinting that it was time to open the show.
After a warm welcome from the MC for the night, ZJ Sparks, she gave Jovi Rockwell the green light to deliver her trademark retro-pop reggae set. The shy-faced singer, dressed for combat, performed her popular tracks, It’s All About Love, You’re Gonna Need Me before dropping her new single, Jamaica. Sky Grass joined the soulstress to perform the Appleton Estate, Awaken Your Spirit single and followed with an engaging set of reggae music.
The front of stage was packed as Wayne Wonder took the microphone and was ready to make an impression on a whole new audience, he said, assuming that many of the night’s guests had not seen his last local performance in January at the Shaggy and Friends concert. It is clear that the singalong choruses of his greatest hits, No Letting Go, Slowly But Surely and Bounce Along really pull the crowds and their Instagram stories.
Nonetheless, the one-hour delivery included more than just the hits from his catalogue. Wayne Wonder also belted out lyrics of Buju Banton’s Love Me Brownin’, Michigan and Smiley’s Nice Up De Dance, and did his reggae rendition of Alphaville’s Forever Young and Michael Jackson’s There’s a Place. Mr Lexx and Chris Martin also made appearances, adding more value to the night.