Beenie Man: King of the Dancehall

They waited long and patiently for hours, applauding a phalanx of local artists before the star eventually showed, resplendent in red from head to foot.

It was well worth staying up till 1am to see Beenie Man, a.k.a, ‘The Doctor’ perform his surgery, a brilliant showman, the consummate performer.

The mainly Jamaican crowd of well over 3,000 packed the Lions Centre last Friday to salute one of their own and Beenie Man did not disappoint. His moniker comes from a childhood nickname for being tiny (beanie). The international singer is of average height now, wiry and blessed with amazing energy.

A breathless delivery followed as The Doctor bounced around the stage, demonstrating salsa, high kicks, slow danceā€¦ the whole nine. Accompanied by the celebrated Ruff Cut Band, rolling hit after hit together in one long medley that lasted over half an hour, he mesmerised the adoring, mostly female crowd. They leaned over the barriers to get as close as possible, stilettos safely taken off to ensure total comfort.

Waving his rag above his head at times, the audience duly did the same. They waved their hands in unison when prompted and held out for a finger tip touch at every opportunity.

He only sang the intro to most of his hits, allowing the crowd to take over. Mic pointed outwards, he gestured for them to sing louder. They responded accordingly. His delivery was so rapid it was hard for anyone who doesn’t know his work to keep pace. That was no problem for many in the first few rows.

Beenie’s charisma is so totally absorbing that even if you don’t know his stuff, just the sheer showmanship alone carries you through. The audience participation worked superbly. Just as well, because he didn’t have any backing singers and so many tunes have been collaborations with females including Janet Jackson. They included ‘Who Am I’, ‘King of the Dancehall’, ‘Girls Dem Sugar’, ‘Street Life’ and ‘Girls’.

Then came the intimate interlude with some distinctly X-rated banter, which the audience had expected judging from the crowd’s response.

‘They banned me from Cayman but I’m back,’ he boasted to more screams.

‘Can I go home now?’ he teased mid-way through the set.

Some social commentary came next with President George Bush and former Prime Minister Tony Blair getting heat. More songs and more banter were forthcoming with no hint of flagging.

‘Can I go home now please?’ he teased the crowd. Another resounding ‘No!’ echoed around the arena.

He finished off with a couple of recent hits, bowed, blew kisses and left. No encore but after 90 minutes of undiluted Beenie Man everyone got their money’s worth.

After 15 years in the mainstream he has reached superstar status yet retains the common touch loved by dancehall fans. No airs and graces. That’s why some of Jamaican dancehall royalty produced on his latest album ‘Undisputed’. They include Elephant Man, Sizzla, Sean Paul, Wayne Wonder and an appearance by hip hop star Akon.

Local Talent

Promoter Chris Durrant deserves praise for staging the mega-show that included several aspiring Caymanian artists, who tested Hopscotch Sound Company’s resources to the max. They included Big J, Solid, Finesse, Main Source, Okonko, Fabian Findley, Anthony Ricardo, Jah Mikes, Terror Con, Maurice, Glammaton, Mikie Spade, Andrea Rivera, Excellent Medley. The whole evening was opened and closed by Steve Burrell, Michelle T and members of the Mount Calvery Deliverance Church of God. The show’s MCs were Renato from Hot 104.1FM and Jamaica’s Richie B of Hot 102FM.

Before Beenie Man, the other Jamaican artists who performed were RDX, Beenie’s estranged wife D’Angel (soon to be his ex, by all accounts) and the lovely Tessanne Chin who is blowing up all over the place with her catchy single ‘Hideaway’.

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