Cocoa Tea ADD

Report: Luciano & Cocoa Tea in Hamburg, Germany 12/8/2013

12/12/2013 by Gardy Stein

Report: Luciano & Cocoa Tea in Hamburg, Germany 12/8/2013

Luciano & Cocoa Tea backed by Step by Step Band in Hamburg, Germany @ Markthalle 12/8/2013



And time stood still…

There are moments that just take your breath away. That, depending on the circumstances, make you realise how valuable, significant, beautiful or fragile life is. One of these moments a lot of people shared when, a few days ago, the death of Rolihlahla Madiba Mandela was announced. Painful though it is, this outstanding man has led a long, fulfilled, meaningful life and leaves behind a legacy that each and everyone should embrace and perpetuate – a legacy to be proud of!

Luckily, it is not only loss that makes us aware of important messages. Last Sunday, people in Hamburg had the chance to witness legacies in the making: Luciano and Cocoa Tea, two of the most spiritual Jamaican Reggae artists, were brought to the city by West Coast Sound and blessed us with a memorable visit on their Roots Rock Reggae European Tour.

Entering the venue Markthalle, eyes were immediately drawn to the source of spherical sounds that reverberated through the concert hall: Kora-player Saliou Cissokho from Senegal took us to the motherland with his expert skills. The vibe he created was picked up by Icient Warrior, who did an early warm-up, followed by a young rapper called Blaxx.

By the time they had finished, only the stage setting bore proof of the spectacle about to unfold before our eyes and ears; it was another hour or so before promoter Tboy announced the arrival of the main acts at 9:30pm. Finally there was movement on stage! The Step by Step Band quickly prepared their instruments and set off with the Satta-Massagana-Riddim, followed by a medley to which the sweet-voiced background singers Roxanne Prince and Keddy-Ann Batson took their place behind the microphones.

Then it was time for the first master of the night: his unmistakable rod in hand, dressed in a navy shirt, camouflage pants and his trademark Fulani hat, Luciano appeared! Quickly redecorating stage, he made it obvious that this was the place he chose to be for the night. Within two minutes of his first tune Messenger, he had everyone under his spell, and all prior grumblings of impatience, nasty weather or personal problems were washed away by the pure energy he radiated. Both physically and spiritually reaching out to those who came to see him, the conscious singer laid a strong emphasis on praising JAH ALMIGHTY with songs like Give Praise and How Can You that were duly celebrated by the massive.

But not only these well-known hits were positively received. Luciano presented some of the songs from his new album The Qabalah Man as well, of which, hailing all Africans in the place, Don't Sell Out is especially remarkable for the topicality of its lyrics. When, at the end of this song, an African brother slipped through security to hug his idol on stage, Luciano simply stated that "I am Jah Messenger, running up on stage is not necessary!". And as if to verify his words, he dived right down into the crowd, taking the mic with him, shaking hands and patting shoulders… Wow!

This man's presence is simply overwhelming. Back on stage, he managed to make everybody feel at once loved, cherished and grateful to be part of this special experience. I was blown away completely when the sweet notes of Sweep Over My Soul began to float through the air and his magnificent voice added its glory to the intensity of the moment… and time stood still!

The beauty continued with Never Give Up My Pride, and despite the calm pace of its One Drop Riddim, the artist suddenly made an acrobatic back flip on stage! With all that physical activity, he still didn't lose the grip on his vocal prowess for one second and continued his teaching in tunes like Silver & Gold or For The Leaders. During the latter, The Messenger took the chance to pay homage to the deceased Mandela: "This great leader left us physically, but his teaching is still around us spiritually!". Coming to a close with Imagine, he ignited the dancing fever in the audience once more, and thus this hopeful, heartfelt hymn was the perfect bridge to Calvin George Scott a.k.a. Cocoa Tea.

The veteran entered stage to a Nyabinghi Riddim that turned out to be the Rastaman Chant and led the massive to an enthusiastic intonation. He went on charging back and forth between Roots Reggae tunes such as Rikers Island or Israel's King and more dancehallish drops like She Loves Me Now or Love Me Truly, in which he even took over the Ragga parts of the Shabba Ranks version. Versatile! And I mean not only his music, but also Cocoa Tea himself, who romped on stage like a 16-year-old, displaying a tough fitness he probably acquired in his youth when he was working as a jockey (not disc-, but horse-!) for several years.  

It's a good thing he didn't stay in this profession, though, because if he did, we might never have come to enjoy songs like Good Life or Hurry Up And Come. The latter (on my personal all-time-favourite No Woman No Cry Riddim) was of course pulled up again and again, giving people ample opportunity to sing along with all their might. It also allowed the musicians to play formidable solos and introduce themselves: Kevin Williamson (bass), his brother Steve Williamson (keyboard), Jermaine Campbell (drums) and Michael Webster (guitar) contributed to making the evening exceptional music-wise.  

Being acquainted with the creations of Cocoa Tea, you know that there is one song still missing, right? Halfway through his famous Tune In, the singer left stage to shouts of protest, only to come back again (having disposed of his shirt) and finish the song. Before saying his final goodbyes at 11:45pm, he took us on a speedy ride through I Lost My Sonia and Young Lover, here again filling in the vocal parts of the absent Buju Banton.

After two hours of non-stop-niceness, it was a bit as if waking from a pleasant dream when lights went on and equipment started to be packed. However, the almost 300 visitors will be able to carry the memory of this night like a glowing treasure in their hearts, and at this point all due respect and support should be given to organizers like Malick (DJ Milko/ West Coast Sound) who invest so much time, money and energy to bring such legendary artists to us. Djeredjef!


Reggaeville took the chance to meet Mr. Jepther McClymont a.k.a. Luciano after the show for a quick chat and an update on his future plans:

First, thank you for the show, it was so… emotional!
Yeah, it's true, it's true. I felt that too!

You mentioned Mandela in the show, saying that we lost a big leader. You even received the Mandela Award for the "Most Cultural Artist". Did you ever meet the man?
I never got to meet him personally, but I met Winnie Mandela, I met the queen. You know, they were separated for a couple of years, but I still see that… they walked as a mighty couple on the face of the earth. It still goes down in history!

So, Miss Mandela came to Jamaica, and she made a speech to us as Reggae singers, and she said Reggae has helped them through their struggles, through apartheid, and that we should continue our work. So, we know the power of the music, you see. We went to South Africa to perform and I met some of his followers and his people there.

What was your impression of Africa, do you want to go back?
LI always want to go back to Africa! I think… my ultimate plan is to reside in Africa, to have a home there so I could tour out of Africa. That's my ultimate dream… a vision really. It's more than a dream to me.

So are you taking steps to make that come true?
Yes. I have a house in Gambia, but I just need to finalize some things in the West so that I can go and spend six months in Africa and six elsewhere… Cause, I still can't just give up my fans and my ties and my people, I have some great works going on in the West. I have to tour! (laughs)

That's what I asked myself… I mean, you are on tour almost constantly, but it still feels like you are tremendously enjoying yourself.
I love every moment of it! Honestly, because it's great when you can make people happy and inspire people.

Don't you ever want a break?
I've been touring extensively, like in the earlier years, so when I get the chance I stay home now and try to work on some projects. I try to live a normal life, it's very important. Too many great people come on the face of the earth, do great things, have great visions and dreams, but they never get to live a normal life. I want to live a normal life. I want some good herbs, go by the riverside, dive, hang out with my kids, drop off my youths at school and pick them up, ride my bicycle through town… that makes me feel good!

How did you link up with Cocoa Tea for the tour?
There was a guy who came to Jamaica and linked us up with tour manager Stefano who wanted to do a winter tour. You see, over the years, Cocoa Tea and myself met on many occasions… in Europe, doing tours, in the US, in Jamaica… we shared stages. So we're trodding on common grounds here. And he is a pioneer that I really look up to, and I love to be on the road with a pioneer, you know. So, without hesitation I seized the opportunity to do a tour with him. I think they really longed to see me also in Europe; for a couple of years now I haven't come this way… It's good, it's great that I can come and my fans realize that I'm still kicking and flicking and all this stuff! (laughs)

For sure! Thank you very much for your time… is there anything you wish to add?
Well… you know there's a new album out called The Qabalah Man… so I just want people to know that the message is still coming! And I have other projects that I'm working on like a Gospel album, an acoustic album, an instrumental… And an acknowledgement to the great King Dennis Emmanuel Brown, it's gonna be an album too… NICE!