KAABOO Cayman got off to a rousing start with local act Rico Rolando taking to the stage as the first arrivals were streaming through the gates early Friday afternoon and concluded with a spectacular show by British band Duran Duran who closed out the weekend with their mega-hit “Rio,” moments before midnight on Saturday. – Words by Spencer Fordin and Mark Muckenfuss; photos by Stephen Clarke and Taneos Ramsay.
Here’s some of the weekend’s highlights:
Maxi Priest brought his calf-length dreadlocks and his signature brand of reggae and soul to Friday’s performance, and he worked the crowd into a frenzy during his hour-long set.
Lead guitarist JJ Sansaverino added some flair by playing his guitar riffs behind his head, and Maxi Priest worked both sides of the stage while running through many of his hits, like “Caution,” “Just a Little Bit Longer” and “Wild World.”
Nobody escapes a Flo Rida set without throwing their hands up and spinning “Right Round.” The American rapper got Friday’s audience energetically moving to his hit “Good Feeling,” and he filled the stage with women from the crowd eager to dance and get “Low, Low, Low, Low.” The sun followed suit as his set began to close out, and Flo Rida also welcomed an unlikely backup dancer – Sir Richard Branson, whose company Virgin Produced put together the KAABOO Cayman festival – to the stage to greet the crowd.
Maren Morris gave her KAABOO audience “The Feels.” Morris, a 28-year-old Nashville-based country siren, unleashed her rich and robust voice on “Sugar” and a series of tracks from her 2016 debut album “Hero.” Morris, wearing a black blouse and a pink skirt, sultrily powered through her latest single, “GIRL,” and shone on album tracks like “I Could Use a Love Song,” “How It’s Done” and “Just Another Thing.”
Everything he does, he did it for you. He did it for KAABOO. Canadian rocker Bryan Adams pulled out many of his classics Friday night, and had the crowd singing along to some of his chart-topping hits. He played “Run to You,” “Heaven,” “It’s Only Love” and “Summer of ’69” off his 1984 smash “Reckless” album. Adams, who said on stage this was his first time in Cayman, barreled through his repertoire, alternating between propulsive rockers and mid-tempo ballads.
Adam Duritz is more of an acquired taste. The lead singer for Counting Crows does not prance around the stage or engage in theatrics. He’s more interested in taking his audience on an emotional journey. Known for playing many of their more obscure tunes in concert, or presenting alternate versions, the band stuck closely to the hits during its hour-plus show, with “Mrs. Potter,” “Round Here” and “Mr. Jones.” The set ended with rousing and energetic versions of “Hanginaround” and “Rain King.”
Electronic dance music duo Alex Pall and Andrew Taggart, aka The Chainsmokers, closed out the first day of the festival with a bang. The show was full of throbbing beats, high-register sound effects, pyrotechnics, spinning lasers, smoke cannons, and a visibly happy crowd. Drummer Matt McGuire even played with flaming drumsticks at one point. “This is what Fyre Festival was supposed to be, right?” Pall said, before the performers launched into their smash hit “Something Just Like This.”
“Mr. Lover Lover” brought his impish sense of humor and smooth Caribbean reggae fusion to the Ironshore stage o
n Saturday. He told the crowd he had first come to Cayman in 1993, and he said he knows Grand Cayman has a strong Jamaican presence. He sang “I Need Your Love” and “Don’t Make Me Wait,” along with his 1993 breakthrough international hit “Oh Carolina.” He then told the male members of the audience “You should not be like Tiger Woods” before launching into “It Wasn’t Me.”
Wearing a short white skirt and long white cape – the latter bearing an exhortation to save the planet that is not printable in the Compass – Debbie Harry dropped the KAABOO crowd back to the days when new wave music was washing over disco. The lead singer of Blondie pulled her band through a series of hits, including“Call Me,” “Hanging on the Telephone” and, of course, “Heart of Glass.” Harry, now 73, still has the voice to pull off the classics.
Live lives again. Ed Kowalczyk, lead singer of Live, returned to the American band from a five-year absence in 2016, He told Saturday’s crowd at KAABOO Cayman that he was thrilled to be back with his bandmates. And it showed. Live opened with a propulsive rendition of “All Over You” and went on to play several hits from their seminal album “Throwing Copper” including “Selling the Drama,” “I Alone” and “Lightning Crashes.”
Zedd may well be the world’s best Zumba instructor. The award-winning Russian-German DJ and songwriter had the Millennial and Generation X
population sweatily dancing elbow-to-elbow deep into the night. The 75-minute set of electro-house music kept the crowd in perpetual motion and was underscored by stunning visual laser-lights and pyrotechnics. Time and time again, Zedd incited the crowd to jump while mixing in hits by Michael Jackson, Cardi B. and other artists.
As much a dance performance as it was a music concert, Jason Derulo and his crew of six dancers muscled their way through an evening of jumps, spins, hair flips and actual flips lifting the music to another level. Derulo opened with “Watcha Say?” followed by “Tip Toe,” then led the band through such songs as “Wiggle,” “Swalla,” and a shortened version of “Colors.” By the end, he had doffed his shimmering silver tank top to deliver bare-chested versions of “The Other Side” and “Talk Dirty.”
The KAABOO headliners, with lead singer Simon Le Bon resplendent in a white suit over a black “Wild Boys” T-shirt, opened their set with “Paper Gods.” Two songs later, Le Bon asked the crowd, “Did you get your conch fritters? … Or is everyone hungry?” before the band launched into “Hungry Like the Wolf” and a series of mega-hits, including “Notorious,” “I Don’t Want Your Love,” and “The Reflex.” The group came back out for a brief encore to play “A View to a Kill” and “Rio.”