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Superb sets at Tracks Live Sessions - Headliners, supporting acts well received by capacity audience at final 2019 show

Published:Saturday | December 14, 2019 | 12:00 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Tanya Stephens holds the attention of the audience at Tracks Live Sessions last Thursday.

The final Tracks Live Sessions for the year featured a strong showing from some of Jamaica’s talented musicians, seasoned and new. Headliner Tanya Stephens opened on a high note with Yuh Nuh Ready Fi Dis Yet even though, on the contrary, the raised mobile phones and recording devices showed that the audience was more than ready to capture her one-of-a-kind vocals as they echoed through the microphone.

She churned out hits like Goggle, Boom Wuk, Good Ride, After You, Still A Go Lose, Can’t Breathe and These Streets, some of which Stephens performed a cappella with the backing vocals of the supportive audience.

“I had a lot of fun, it was really a good time jamming together with the musicians and the audience too, because they were on par for every bit of foolishness we keep up, up deh [on stage]. It is always important to cater to all, man and woman, I mean that’s what the performance is always about,” Stephens said.

New album coming

Fans will be happy to know the reggae heavyweight is working on a new album for 2020; noting that her last album, Guilty, was released six years ago in December 2013.

She said: “It’s the same inspiration as past works, just life; plus me like look pon di man dem who fool fool ‘cause like tonight, dem give me nuff inspiration fi write, record and perform songs ‘bout them.”

Preceding Stephens’ set, the second billed act, producer and deejay Serani, hit the stage, but not before giving a few minutes to guitarist and up-and-coming deejay, Almando Douglas, who ushered the audience into dancehall mode with Peng Peng.

Immediately, jumping out into the spotlight in a three-quarter satin pants suit … “It’s, it’s Serani, just in case you never know!”

Serani, given name Craig Marsh, knows how to engineer his music to the atmosphere and it was evident in his set that came with a well-organised selection. The dancehall producer-performer was locked in from the first minute, and refused to let anyone forget that he was giving this performance his all with the antics. He has clearly been putting in the work and playing “no games” to earn the win.

With sweat washing his face, he gave the audience a rundown of productions from tracks recorded on ‘Anger Management’ and ‘Stepz’ riddims, and his verse on Burna Boy’s single, titled Secret, to stimulating the crowd to move to Skip to my Luu and Elephant Man’s Signal De Plane, as he danced wildly across the stage. He also got the thumbs up for having shared the spotlight with upcoming acts.

It was engaging, it was beautiful, it was hot – literally to the point where he removed his jacket, bow tie then his white dress shirt; it was another live performance for the books. His last performance in Jamaica was exactly one year ago.

“The stage literally moved; I enjoyed the show, especially loved the turnout and I am thankful so many people came out to see me and the lovely Tanya Stephens,” he said.

Performances for the night were led off by opening act Jamila Falak. The propitious singer and instrumentalist’s distinctive performance unfolded with her rendition of American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, which she delivered playing her own upright bass with confidence.

The atmosphere transitioned from members of the audience dancing to the old dancehall and reggae selections of the emergent DJ Gabby to deeply focusing on the words that escaped the lips of Falak singing the pop song, then the reggae single Skankin’ Sweet by Chronixx.

She also performed her single LA AAA ADY, which was featured in the Emmy-nominated film Jacqueline and Jilly, but not before doing a special performance of the traditional happy birthday song for persons celebrating.

“There must be a lady that has done something good in your life, whether your mother or a girlfriend,” the singer said to the males in the crowd that had gradually grown to fill the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records (UBTR) floor, before testing their singing ability with learning the chorus. “Here it is, ‘You’re a la aaa ady so life better treat you accordingly, just like a queen wearing her crown, you deserve it’, sing it to the ladies!” she exclaimed, pointing the microphone towards the audience, who replied receptively.

As always, though, many of the greatest moments from a live music show happen unplanned – like the encore Falak was called back on to do; and flawlessly she gave the audience Adele’s When We Were Young.

“That was dancehall at its finest,” Angiel Shaw, marketing manager of KLE Group Limited, managers of UBTR, told The Gleaner after Serani’s performance. “Also, Jamila Falak surprised everyone with her musicianship, overall the show was of great musicianship.”

The turnout alone, she added, “shows that Tracks Live Sessions has outgrown the venue allotment and we’ll need to consider plans for expansion. We are extremely elated about the support that has come out, we are filled to capacity, and that was a top priority when we relaunched the live music series with the brand.”