‘Giants of Reggae 2018’ Beres Hammond and Sanchez -August 19th 2018 O2 Academy Brixton
Dubbed as the ‘Giants of Reggae 2018’ tour, Beres Hammond and Sanchez landed into the UK for their three date summer tour last week amid phenomenal demand to see these two ‘Giants of Reggae’ sharing the same stage. Demand being so high in the UK led to two extra dates being added after the show in Brixton sold out weeks in advance.
In terms of musicianship, lets put this into perspective. Beres Hammond can be regarded as the crème de la crème- regarded as one of Jamaica’s greatest singer-songwriters his smoky, sweet voice has been wowing away audiences all over the world for over 40 years with tales of love, romance and reality.
Sanchez, a true reggae legend, transforms his audience into a mass choir at his live performances. Influenced by the likes of Brook Benton, Sam Cooke and Tom Jones, his repertoire ranges from soulful R’nB to hardcore dancehall, balanced with religiously calming cuts that enhance the spiritual vibes of his act.
World A Reggae and MusicMedia Management arrived into a packed O2 Academy Brixton around 8.30pm with many more patrons patiently waiting to get inside as almost 5000 music fans waited patiently to see two reggae icons or giants.
The DJ’s on the night and compère Daddy Ernie did a fine job with keeping the packed crowd entertained until Sanchez burst onto the stage dressed in a dapper blue suit and shades complete with his fine backing band to huge cheers from the capacity crowd as he belted out hit after hit within the first 15 minutes to a sea of mobile phones catching a piece of hit songs ‘I can’t wait, ‘Loneliness’, ‘Let me love you’ and ‘Pretty girl’ on the old Cables ‘What kind of world’ rhythm which he extended into Morgan Heritage’s ‘Down by the river’ and Freddie Mcgregor’s ‘See it in you’.
As the band played the opening bars of ‘College Rock’ Sanchez went into one of his signature songs ‘One in a million’ which gained a rapturous forward prompting Sanchez to pull it up. Sensing he was just warming up, off came the blue suit jacket and then went into Redman produced ‘Old friends’. The band was playing tight and rhythm connoisseurs enjoyed the extended ‘Real Rock’ extravaganza of ‘If I ever fall in love again’, ‘Love should have brought you home’ before giving a line of Willie Williams ‘Armagideon Time’ and Michigan and Smiley’s ‘Uptown downtown’-Sanchez was clearly energised and the crowd were loving every moment. Hit after hit –‘Call you on the phone’, ‘Pretty brown eyes’ and many more including ‘Praise him’ before announcing “this segment of the show is dedicated to all the ladies” and moving into Ed Sheeran’s ‘Thinking out loud’ and John Legend’s ‘All of me’ before he paid a salute to the legends of reggae that are no longer here. Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Alton Ellis, Garnett Silk and Bob Marley are just a few of the artists whose works were covered and every single one was met by huge cheers.
Closing his one hour performance with ‘Missing you’ and ‘Never dis the man’ the crowd certainly wanted more but were keen to welcome Beres Hammond on stage as time was ticking and a band change had to be factored in. The DJ’s on the night did their best to keep the crowds rocking and swaying to some reggae classics.
It was close to 10.30pm when the Harmony House Band played the first notes of ‘Last war’ followed by an instrumental medley of classic rhythms before Beres Hammond coolly walked onto stage to ‘No goodbye’ which saw the energy created by Sanchez turn up a few extra gears as the crowd went into a frenzy-ladies screaming “Beres” at the top of their voices!
Wearing his trademark blue jeans, cap and loosely buttoned floral print shirt Beres shouts “Family, I haven’t seen you in a while” and then blasts out hit after hit- ‘Can’t stop a man’, ‘Sweet lies’, ‘Come back home’, ‘what one dance could do’. The hits rolled out one after another in his own unique soulful singing voice.
Beres moved across the entire stage teasing the audience with all of the classics, perhaps with a slight limp in his leg as the cheers from the crowd seemed to get louder and louder after each song. The Harmony House singers worked really well with Beres and one could clearly see that the band rehearsals have paid off particularly during ‘Falling in love again’. As part of his stage show, Beres teased the crowd with his trademark Buju Banton impersonation of ‘Who say that big man don’t cry’! By the end of the song, the crowd sang the entire chorus word for word!
The Harmony House band were on fire as well, and I enjoyed watching them play as well. The guitarist showed some cool ‘Junior Marvin’ style poses reminiscent of The Wailers and one by one, each member came up front to rock a solo like the guitarist, bassist, sax, and drummer adding to the entertainment value of a true concert. The saxophonist came up to the front to play a blistering solo before Beres came in with “ Hey little girl each time you pass my way I’m tempted to touch”– musical fire!
One of the real treats on the night was a seven minute rendition of ‘Pull it up’ with each band member showing their musical prowess as Beres moved into crowd pleasers ‘I feel good’, ‘They gonna talk’ before a semi acoustic ‘No disturb sign’ and show closer ‘Rock away’ sung acapella. Before leaving the stage, a beaming smile across his face, Beres left by saying “Seeing you all tonight was more than a pleasure, I love you all”
Oh what a night! Reggae music fans came out in their thousands for a musical treat and that is exactly what they got. Personally, I would have loved to have had some more of the rootsier material like ‘Come down father’ and ‘Warriors don’t cry’ but I guess I’m happy to leave that for the next show!
For decades, these two legends have an impressive track record as being show stoppers and we can only wait with baited breathe for Beres Hammond’s forthcoming album ‘Never Ending’ on VP Records.
Beres and Sanchez had definitely caused a roadblock in Brixton!
By DJ 745, WorldAReggae