07/23 - 07/25 2010
Concert Report: Reggaeville Easter Special in Berlin 2023
04/07/2023 by Gardy Stein
Finally! After our annual Reggaeville Easter Special had to be postponed three times in a row due to Miss Corona, this is the year that it's really happening: with a phenomenal line-up, the Easter weekend sees five dates across Germany and the Netherlands, including Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Dortmund and Amsterdam. To give you a taste of the goodness that this tour has in store for you, we've covered the Berlin kick-off in a comprehensive report below. Let us know in the comments what was your favorite moment, track or artist!
The venue Festsaal Kreuzberg is bustling with activity upon our arrival around 6:30pm. Lutan Fyah is on the mic for a final soundcheck with the band, handing it over to Droop Lion before everyone retreats backstage for some food and rest. Merchandise stands are set up, both sound and light engineers make some final adjustments to the programmed settings, and in the Reggaeville production office, Björn, Rune and Marox check the recording equipment one last time. Good to go! Meanwhile, CEOs Julian (Reggaeville) and Christoph (Revelation Concerts) have installed themselves at the entrance where, at 7:30pm, doors open and around 900 eager visitors come streaming in.
They enter to the sounds of DJ Hille (Soundquake), who knows his Berlin massive well and sets the mood right for what is to come. At around 8:30pm, a local support act by the name of Soultrain opens the stage to a diversity of playbacks provided by Hotta Henne. The crowd is growing during the four or five songs he presents in a casual, Shaggy-ish style, and he well deserves the applause he gets. Expectation rises when, close to 9pm, lights are dimmed, and the musicians of an amazing band approach their instruments: Thomas Join-Lambert on drums, Dominick Marie-Joseph on bass, Kubix on guitar, Daniel Adelaide on keyboard, Rico Gaultier on saxophone, Pierre Chabrele on trombone and Jimhigh Kayans on percussion. Claps and whistles welcome the ladies in this talented constellation, as Sandra Oujagir and Linda Rey, in matching black and gold outfits and fabulous red shoes, take their place behind the microphones. Bimm!
After the band began to play, Droop Lion makes a dynamic entrance. Dressed to impress, he wears a shining grey suit over a salmon shirt and a gold chain, his dreadlocks flying while he sweeps the stage – Rasta in session! Having toured with Jamaica's roots reggae group The Gladiators since 2013 as new lead singer, he has not only acquainted himself with their repertoire, but put his own stamp on it, as the sweet version of Naturality shows with which he wins over the audience at once. Continuing the ride with Burning & Looting and Ghetto Life as well as his own compositions Katta and the countryesque Freeway, the singer convinces with his unique voice and a commanding stage presence, making sure he thanks the organizers and visitors of this concert: "Big up Christoph and Julian and the whole team for bringing us here! How are you feeling, Berlin?"
While a soft, Gospel-like intro heralds the next song Pray For Them, Droop tells us: "When I sing these songs I cry like a baby, you know!", and indeed the next few minutes are goosebump material. When the heavy Nyabinghi beat drops, the singer, having stood with eyes closed until then, grabs the mic and moves to the words he sings. The audience joins in the dancing and, a bit later, in singing a slow cover version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Seen The Rain as well as Marley's Soul Rebel, which closes Droop Lion's segment. "Take care of yourself! Take good care of yourself! Eat good food and drink good water, hold a good meditation!" he says before waving his final goodbyes to a frenetically cheering audience. Make sure you check out this artist, including his brand-new single Victory!
At 9:30pm, the next conscious artist gets ready for his appearance. Singing from the off for the first minute or so, the audience cheers loudly as soon as Lutan Fyah enters the stage with Rastafari greetings. And fire he brings! With songs like Africa Shall Rise, Mightier Than Them All or Rastafari Leads The Way from his wide-ranging catalogue, he heats up the mood even further, answered enthusiastically by the crowd. Even whistles are in the place!
Lutan's performance climaxes in his well-known tracks Come Over (blessing us with some Dancehall vibes as the band perfectly delivers Don Corleon's Major & Minor riddim), Lonesome Soldier (on Silly Walks' Honey Pot Riddim) and the uplifting Touch Di Road from his eponymous EP, a perfect post-lockdown anthem to which he bounces along without losing command of his powerful vocals for even a second. Before he delivers the final Ungrateful, the artist says: "It's nice to be here with you once again, Berlin!", beaming at the people, who in turn assure him that the feeling is mutual. With an album or EP coming out every year since 2012, this man is definitely one of the hardest working artists in the business, on or off stage, and worth checking out, as he has some music in store for every taste (with #420 coming up, listen to his She Got Stoned). Thanks for the energy, Lutan Fyah!
Max Romeo / Azizzi Romeo / Xana Romeo
After a short break, at 10:15pm, it is time for a living legend. Max Romeo, at age 75, has declared this his "Ultimate Tour", retiring from the strenuous life on the road and handing the torch over to the next generation. Tonight is thus one of the last chances to see him live, and the awed hush that falls over the audience when his slender figure, dressed in a checkered brown suit, steps up to the mic indicates that they are well aware of this fact. It doesn't last long, though, as they break into thunderous applause when the first notes are struck. Important messages are transmitted in Let's Live Together, Back To The Bible and Time Bomb, and although, in the beginning, there is some feedback from the mic the technicians have to handle, the people are listening intently.
During a Ska interlude, the band takes over for an instrumental solo, dominated by Rico (sax) and Pierre (trombone) up front – sheer musical bliss! I'm especially touched by the subsequent slow-paced, rocksteady piece Every Man Ought To Know (from his 1974 album of the same name), and I'm not the only one rocking along to its sweet vibe with eyes closed. Oh the beauty of this music!
Calling us back into the here and now, Max Romeo then says "You know, I'm on the road with two of my children, Azizzi and Xana Romeo. So, right now, I'll bring on stage Azizzi Romeo!". The young progeny (who is not only a gifted singer but a producer as well, by the way) presents a gripping Age Of Truth, followed by Demeanor and African Youth. Some of the fans present might have taken the chance to visit the spontaneous Always Learning Pop-Up earlier (a photo exhibition and video release with the chance to meet & greet Azizzi) in the Obey Art Space in Berlin which ran from 3 to 6pm, as his stage appearance was necessarily short, given the amount of artists on tonight. He thus hands the mic back to his father, who continues with Valley Of Death and the famous One Step Forward. Movement spreads among the crowd once more when the well-known intro heralds Three Blind Mice, a song originally released as single in 1973, covered many times ever since.
Max Romeo then calls his daughter Xana to the stage, who, in a firework of bright lights, delivers her renowned Rate Rasta and the beautiful Brave Queen, livicated to all the empresses. "Xana loves you, Berlin!" she says when she returns to the side of the stage where her mother and brother are waiting, and daddy Max comes to the front once more to give us War Inna Babylon, Holy Mount Zion and, what everyone has been waiting for, the mighty Chase The Devil. And the place goes maddd! Before he leaves, he addresses the audience once more, telling us that his last song will be a new, as yet unreleased single called Nyabinghi Star (although the setlist says My Way). Lights are dimmed, the instrumentation turning almost acoustic with Pierre joining Jimhigh on percussions… another memorable moment of this intense evening!
Before the final act can claim the stage, a complete changeover is necessary (adding to the 40-minute delay that has accumulated by now), as Lila Iké came with her own band, a group of four talented young musicians from Kingston. They are Kristoff on drums, Genius on guitar, Dane on bass and Freshy on keyboards, and they enter stage with matching light-colored suits. Ten minutes to midnight, they start to play a crashing Intro to which Lila, dressed all in orange, appears on stage with Thy Will on her lips. "Berlin, how are you? You are surrounded by energy, can you feel it?" she inquires of the people present, diving into Sweet Inspiration right away. Her positive interaction with the audience is kept up throughout her performance, in call-and-answers or sing-alongs, as in a swinging cover of Bob Andy's Too Experienced.
"It's such a joy to be here tonight, thank you very much Reggaeville Easter Special!" she expresses her gratitude, and goes on: "My first time in Berlin, only around 80 people were there. Now look at us!" The audience cheers loudly, celebrating the subsequent Biggest Fan and the introspective Solitude, after which she again addresses her fans: "Your peace exists within you, first and foremost. Not in a house, not in another person, it's in you. Let me hear you say, Peace Of Mind!"
With pink lights and the chirping of birds, the next track I Spy starts, just to be pulled up instantly to massive applause from the crowd. Dancehall vibes deya! [author's note: in the Munich edition of the show, she was joined on stage by a squad of dancers around Godzilla Boss OG's – pure fire!]. It's really a joy to see the artist interacting with her band, moving as one through the music. Before they jump into True Love, Lila says: "Because of love we are all here tonight, you love music and you love listening to these artists, right, so it's love!" and gives a shout-out to the artists that were on stage before her. Her props extend to Sizzla and Norris Man, who have a version on the riddim, and to Bob Marley, too, as she cuts in Waiting In Vain.
Introducing it as "a truly European song", Second Chance, with its signature bass-line, mobilizes the last energies of the remaining crowd, followed by Wanted to which Lila even picks up her guitar. As special easter gift, she plays the as yet unreleased track Highest Grade and introduces her final song with the words: "We have to put out positive music, with positive messages!", thus summing up her conscious, reflective, creative oeuvre.
The strong Where I'm Coming From closes her show, and the night (as it's already 0:45am by now), and, even though many voices call for "one more song", this phenomenal concert is now over. Tired but happy, both artists and visitors make their way home, having experienced a night to remember.
A big THANK YOU is due here to all artists, musicians, managers, organizers, technicians and supporters who made this tour happen – you know who you are. And, a final shoutout to the sponsors who helped in setting the whole thing up: Black Leaf, California's Choice CBD, Goldfish Amsterdam, Medusa Filters and HamCan!
PHOTO REPORTS HERE: BERLIN | MUNICH | HAMBURG | DORTMUND | AMSTERDAM