Three-time Grammy Award winner Damian Marley performed in front of an ecstatic crowd for the third time in Costa Rica last Friday night.
The concert, held at El Autodromo La Guacima, opened with local Costa Rican bands Un Rojo and Ojo de Buey, followed by DJs from Rising Sound. The energy in the red, yellow and green-clad crowd steadily increased throughout the night, and everyone started bouncing as Black Am I took the stage, followed by Wayne Marshall. The two talented reggae artists from Jamaica have worked with Damian Marley on his new album, Set Up Shop Vol I. The new album is the first in an anticipated series of collaborations led by Damian Marley, who hopes to bring some of the incredible talent from Jamaica to the world stage.
Beneath a soft haze of marijuana-scented air, the crowd threw their hands in the air as Wayne Marshall began his set with an enthusiastic announcement: “It’s my first time in Costa Rica. Soy Wayne Marshall. Manos en el aire!”
After their sets of a few songs each, Black Am I and Wayne Marshall left the stage to the rising screams of an eager crowd anticipating the long-awaited arrival that night of Jr. Gong.
Announced by emcee Sky High, Bob Marley’s youngest son bounced on stage shortly after midnight and opened with the wildly popular and highly energetic Skrillex collaboration “Make it Bun Dem.” The reception was epic as the mostly female crowd up front screamed at ear-piercing decibel levels.
The yelling subsided into singing as Marley went in to “There For You” from his Grammy Award winning album Jamrock, and soon on to his father’s songs “War,” “No More Trouble” and “Exodus.” The impressive flag-bearer, Judah, was there to passionately wave the Rastafarian flag around stage all night as Marley bounced around stage singing and swinging his floor-sweeping dreads around himself.
Producers ProMotor Sport and Rising Sound did an excellent job organizing the 6-hour musical event. The sound was good from all spots in the audience, the event played out on schedule with no negative surprises.
About halfway through his set, Jr. Gong slowed it down and the crowd swayed to the good vibes of a beautiful love song entitled “Affairs of the Heart” from his new album. The successful reggae artist played songs from a variety of his albums, including Set Up Shop Vol I, Halfway Tree and Welcome to Jamrock, while he also covered some of his father’s famous and beloved songs.
After another slow song, “It Was Written,” Marley sent the crowd into a frenzy with the question “Are there any Bob Marley fans in the house tonight?” Then he played the renowned “Could You Be Loved.”
When Marley exited the stage, the crowd knew it wasn’t quite over, and they started to chant, “Otra, otra!” Back on stage, Jr. Gong jumpstarted the encore with “Get Up Stand Up” and it seemed that every member of the audience was jamming. Lighters and cellphones rose into the air at the request of Damian and he ended the performance shortly before 2 a.m. with “Road to Zion” and his most famous song, “Welcome to Jamrock.”
The audience left that night satisfied, with huge smiles on their faces. “What a concert, the best one this year without a doubt. Good vibes, great musicians, and Damian was amazing,” summed up audience member Yendry Alvarado.