Buju Banton ‘the legend’ returns ... to Bahamas
The last time Mark ‘Buju Banton’ Myrie performed to a Bahamian audience, he was hailed a star.
Last Saturday night when he returned at the Thomas A Robinson Stadium in Nassau, the former star easily moved from his dancehall genre to social commentary, during his 90 minutes, high-voltage performance as a legend.
For the close to 15,000 patrons who waited patiently for the ‘Gargamel’ to commence the second leg of his ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ tour, it was obvious their musical saviour had returned. His lyrics were inspirational, his delivery solid, and the crowd was energised with wild abandonment.
He appeared on the stage looking dapper in a well-fitted suit, as if he was on his way to the office, ready to do a day’s work. Ten minutes before he hit the stage the audience started their own concert spurring his arrival. They were anxious, hungry, shouting: “Where is Buju? Where is Buju? We want Buju!” When he belted It’s not an easy Road, they all could relate to the man who had spent over eight years incarcerated.
As he disrobe, removing his jacket, then his tie, looking at them with disdain as they fell to the floor, it seemed symbolic of his feelings – free at last.
Buju eased into his comfort zone, keeping his audience engaged throughout, taking them into a deep spiritual space. For each song he belted, they knew their role without being prompted, playing chorus. As fantastic as his backup singers were, they were forced to compete with an audience that invaded not only the stadium but the artistes’ performance.
For Buju, it was as if he lived in the Bahamas. He spoke about the gang violence, the skin bleaching – asking why they don’t love themselves – just before pulling for Love Black Woman. His commentary was impactful, and there was no doubt he had won the hearts of many young people in the stadium.
“He was charismatic. He had appeal. He had young people who weren’t even teenagers when he went to prison clinging to his every word,” said Jamaica-born Bahamian attorney Doneth Cartwright, who described the event as simply amazing.
“He literally walked out of a prison cell and on to stage and delivered a menu of hits that was unbelievable. He is a legend,” she asserted.
The Gargamel was joined on his walk by a number of acts, including Bahamian comedian Lil Duval, who was the perfect opener for the show. His short 15 minutes set was enhanced by his energetic dancers.
He kept the stadium entertained with his hit song Smile, I am Living My Best Life, even while showcasing his versatility by pulling for two Beres Hammond songs.
The artiste who came closest to Buju’s stellar performance, was old school’s Reggae statesman, Glen Washington, who was scintillating, delivering some of his all-time favourites.
Behaving like a sex symbol on stage, Gramps Morgan of Morgan Heritage, who followed suit, did a fairly good job – opening up the opportunity for his son, Jamere, to whet his feet. Morgan overstayed his welcome, and the artiste who was introduced as an African from Lagos, Nigeria, Davido, was given far too much time to carry out unnecessary antics of throwing water and flashing Hennessey with total disregard for the audience.
However, the Gargamel erased any remnants left by Davido, and when the he exited the stage, thousands went with him, leaving a few die-hards for a Bahamian rapper – Kodak Black at 4 a.m.
The ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ tour will take the Gargamel to other Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago, British Virgin Islands and Barbados.