BY RICHARD JOHNSON——-
JAMAICA’S dancehall is noticeably absent from the line-up of the 13-day concert to be staged in London’s O2 Arena on July 25 to August 6 this year.
Of the raft of prominent ska, rocksteady, roots reggae and dub poetry acts listed for the event, diamond-selling artist Shaggy, and singjay Wayne Marshall are the only two dancehall acts listed for the series.
From left: Rob Hallett, head of AEG Live; music insider Copeland Forbes; reggae singer U-Roy; and, dub poet Mutabaruka share a moment on stage during Monday’s launch of the Jamaica 50 concert series in London later this year. (Photo: Karl McLarty)
The event being produced by AEG Live — one of the world’s foremost event production companies based in the UK — is being used to promote Jamaica’s 50th anniversary of independence as well as highlight the exploits of Jamaican athletes at the Olympics.
Rob Hallett, head of AEG Live, told the Jamaica Observer that the organisers took a conscious decision to hand-pick the artists who would perform on the event in order to avoid any controversy which could develop with the inclusion of dancehall acts.
“The concert is ‘Respect Jamaica 50th’ and as such we wanted Jamaica to be treated with respect in every way during this series of shows. Therefore, we went for some of some of the great exponents of all forms of Jamaican music over the past 50 years,” said Hallett.
While making the point that he has nothing against dancehall music, Hallett said he wanted to ensure that that there was no room for error.
“I’m sure some hardcore dancehall fans may not see Shaggy and being a representative of the genre, but one has to be practical,” he added.
Among the acts billed are Damian ‘Junior Gong’ Marley who will perform on two nights, Lee Scratch Perry, Yellowman, Tappa Zukie, Ernie Ranglin, Mutabaruka, John Holt, Tarrus Riley, Gyptian, Marcia Griffiths, Jimmy Cliff and Morgan Heritage who are reuniting after a brief hiatus.
The nightly concerts will be supplemented by other aspects of Jamaican culture including a film festival which will see the screening of Jamaican films including Ghett’A Life, Third World Cop and The Harder They Come. A number of Jamaican theatre productions will also take to the stage. The Bob Marley exhibition will was previously on show at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles will also be mounted for viewing in London during this period.