“You are looking at a walking miracle, a walking thanksgiving,” Busy Signal told Groovin’ In The Park audience members.
It was the artiste’s first performance in the United States and anticipation was high. Having already reeled off hits such as Step Out and Full Clip and Nah Go a Jail Again, audience members, many of whom had clamoured to the front of the stage, sang along in unison with the artiste.
“A farin me deh, big farin,” Busy Signal shouted to cheers and applause from eager fans. Couples inched closer to each other as he slowed down the pace of his set and launched into One More Night and Missing You.
Then came the song most Jamaicans (and West Indians) in the audience were waiting for, as Busy Signal belted out the words to Jamaica Love, patrons proudly waved their home flags in anticipation of the song’s catchy chorus. But that was not to be, as a signal came for him to wrap up his set.
“Dem waan cut me performance time. Mi nah disrespect nobody. Mi nah do da jail ting deh again. Mi don’t want dem draw me out. This is my first performance here, me hungry fi perform,” a seemingly upset Busy told the audience.
He then attempted to continue his set, but was unceremoniously cut off. As Busy Signal and his band exited the stage, angry fans began chanting that they wanted the artiste to continue his set.
Though the MC attempted to make light of the situation, by explaining that the show was running late, all he got in response was a round of boos.
“Busy, Busy” they continued to chant.
Although a few patrons exited the venue, many still stayed behind to see the final performer, R. Kelly, and after a few minutes, without introduction, the headliner finally appeared on stage.
R. Kelly hit the stage and launched into bits of hits such as Thoia Thong, Snake, Get This Money and Go Getta.
“Where are the real R. Kelly fans? Not the Instagram fans or social media fans, I mean the real fans that have been rocking with me over the years?” he asked to screams from adoring females.
Seemingly aware that fans were not quite as engaged at one point in his performance, R. Kelly said he had nothing to do with the running order of the event (in reference to Busy Signal’s shortened set). This seemed to appease some fans.
Party jams such as Ignition, Fiesta, I’m a Flirt and Freaky in the Club, followed, as the King of R&B was joined on stage by his doppelganger mascot.
R. Kelly continued with Slow Wind, You Remind Me of Something and Seems Like You’re Ready.
Earlier in the day, Tarrus Riley delivered a stellar performance with hits, including Human Nature, Far Away, Beware and Never Leave I. He also paid tribute to some of reggae’s fallen greats, including his father, Jimmy Riley, Garnet Silk and Frankie Paul. He also invited Estelle to the stage who reeled off a few hits from her catalogue.
Celebrating 51 years of rocksteady music, reggae greats Daddy U-Roy, Leroy Sibbles, Ken Boothe and Freddie McGregor all delivered incredible performances, backed by the Groovin’ Symphony Orchestra and Lloyd Parkes and We The People Band.
After taking fans on a stroll down memory lane, all four were awarded with State Senate proclamations from the State of New York for their profound love and commitment to Caribbean music, art and culture.