It has been a long wait for the Long Walk to Freedom tour to hit Europe, and finally it came to be, at Summerjam Festival in Cologne, Germany’s foremost Reggae City. Buju Banton’s first performance in Europe after his release, people came from all over Europe to experience first hand the man they have been waiting for. We camped by the red stage, where he was scheduled to perform at 23:30, people were lining up to get to the front lines as early as 3pm. At around 8pm the whole area was full and the battle lines were drawn.
It turned out to be the best decision to camp out at the Red Stage because it was redda fire with consciousness brought to us first by Samroy-I and the Black Ark Band who let us know that “Rasta Nuh Gangsta” and other hits from his Balck Gold album. He was followed by the artist known as the lyricist, Kabaka Pyramid and The Bebble Rockers who never forget to drop some serious knowledge while dishing out some good vibez and paying tribute to some of the artist who inspired him including Busta Rhymes.
It was Kabaka Pyramid, during his set that warned us to save our energies because of the long night ahead. But he himself was setting the stage on fire and had the crowd in a frenzy. He reminded us that there is still Protoje to forward, followed by Wizkid before the Gargamel could hit the stage.
But before we could get to Protoje, the French outfit Dub Inc helped us cool it down with some heavy Dub Vibes and the crowd did not want them to leave the stage.
Protoje followed with the multi talented Indiggnation Band that truly captures the attention of the audience, and the two fierce back up singers performance geared at engaging the audience from each corner of the stage.
Then the vibez took a turn and we found ourselves grooving to some Afro Beats thanks to Naija Boy, Star Bwoy Wizkid accompanied by a saxophonist, a keyboardist and DJ Tunes the great hype man.
At this point the clouds had gathered and the wind blew gently. It had been a hot sunny day and we expected the evening to be cool, but it seemed to be getting chilly, and just before the Gargamel hit the stage, there were gentle drops of rain, blessing showered as we welcomed back on stage Our Buju. Keeping in line with a common African custom of giving due praises before the beginning of a ceremony, Buju, still at the back, invisible to the masses, belched out “Our Father Who art in Zion“, a spiritual anthem fit to start the show along with those gentle drops of rain signaled the beginning of an unforgettable experience. Let Jah arise and all his enemies scatter! He opened the set with Destiny!
Til Shiloh, Inner Heights, Unchained Spirit, Rasta Got Soul, Mr Mention all came to life with the help of the mighty Shiloh Band and the amazing three back up singers whose voices made you feel like you we were on the high way to heaven.
Buju did not say too much, as a seasoned performing artist, he knew what the people wanted and he dished it all out. He reminisced about his first time performing in Germany, which was in Berlin. He also quipped about how the fans have grown, he remembers some faces from years ago when he performed at the Summerjam, they were young then and their parents had brought them to the festival, now ten years later, they are here on their own, still supporting reggae music. He reminded us Africans who come to Europe never to forget where we come from. Buju connected with us and we felt that connection. He respects his audience and is the master of the stage craft. When his set ended, we felt content, filled with some new vibrant and humbling energies.
For more photos and videos of Buju Banton log on to Summerjam website.