Capleton at The Stratford Rex Sunday 23rd June 2002Well Capleton reaches these shores as part of his "How it a go - Fire Bun Tour" and this reviewer managed to get a freeness & catch the final UK date at The Stratford Rex. All I can say is that I'm bloody glad I never had to fork out the £22.50 (+ Booking fee) to see this so called performance!
Not normally being a negative sort of person, this concert leaves me little choice but to be so and the Promoter receives the full blast of my wrath. Why, still, in this day and age do these incompetent so-called Promoters get to put on shows when they are clearly only in it for their own self promotion and to "Big themselves up" within the community. Beres Bassa was the man behind this shambles and even had the audacity to come on stage near the end of the performance and ramble to the crowd, clearly having had one drink too many, explaining to us how he loves everyman, letting us know who he was and requesting the audience to call out his name over and over?!
Well I was dumbstruck. There are still too many men who feel they can put on a show without having the first clue about what that entails and the kind of professionalism required to carry it through properly. When will it cease !
Anyway, back to the performance itself. I arrived just as the UK artists were warming the crowd. Sandeeno was on stage and did a couple of his songs, including the lovely "Warning". He was followed by a new artist to me under the name "Sparky" (or could have been Starky?) anyways, a nice DJ who got the crowd jumping to his lyrical skills. Most impressive. He was followed by Ninja Lee who was joined on stage by General Levy and the two proceeded to battle, DJ style and on one occasion, physically, over the mike. A bit of fun, it got the crowd bawling in response to their antics. After this short lineup it was left to Sugar Dread to entertain us until the main show. Now Sugar Dread is my selector but even he seemed to have lost the vibe, jumping between classic dancehall tunes, current slackness, Bob Marley, you name it. He didn't really run it nice at all and you got the feeling he was filling in very half heartedly. By now the crowd just looked tired and bored but still had what turned out to be a whole hour to wait for the main show.
Sunday nights at this venue can only run until 2am and at 1am I found out that Capleton was still not even in the building. Eventually at 1.30am a band hurried on stage with an older Ras who was MC'ing and drumming throughout the show. As with many of the artists he was not introduced and neither were the backing band.
First negative signs to me were the mass of people allowed on the side of the stage, something that should never happen. As a professional this not only detracts from your own performance but is also a safety hazard. I Understand that Capleton alone brought an entourage of about 100 people with him that night and it seemed most of them were on the stage with him. The band kicked off and Capleton eventually emerged, roaring out to a big reception from the crowd, who were pleased at last for something to be happening. The problem with artists like Capleton is they try to keep a foot in both camps, stepping between the slackness/bashment crowd and those who love their conscious lyrics. I am not going to start on with all the criticism and talk that is always brought up whenever anyone mentions Capleton or Sizzla, as we have heard it all before. But it is a hard task to try to appeal to both crowds. This was highlighted in his performance here. He jumped on stage bawling over and over "Let me hear if you love fi sex pum pum" and throughout the show continued with the same slack slogans accompanied by simulated crotch thrusting towards the audience. What also concerned me was that, at no point did he ever greet the crowd, Nor did he apologise for the delay, or acknowledge us in any sense of the word. He just carried on as if he was perfoming to himself, and as a friend of mine cleverly puts it, there was never any marriage between artist and audience.
After the slackness he dipped into the fabulous "Jah Jah City" only to start that business where he stopped singing and pointed the mike at the audience for us to carry the words. Ok, when done for a popular chorus but not for the entire song !!! And definitlely not when the audience aint' really singing !! He continued doing this for the next track "Stand tall" and he lost me from there really. I come to a concert to hear the artist perform, not to sing it myself.