“I long to sing me some love songs man,” an exuberant Beres Hammond exhaled during his ‘Love from a Distance’ virtual YouTube concert last night, and over a 100,000 attendees longed to hear him sing them.
The lovers rock charmer offered the consummate end to reggae month with a 90-minute concert from his Kingston-based Harmony House studio, amplified by guest artistes from three generations of Jamaican popular music.
“I got a brother in the house,” Hammond sang his words as the rhythm for A Little More Time offered clues that Buju Banton was nearby.
Seeing Hammond and ‘The Gargamel’ reunited on stage certainly lit up everyone’s lives like Disney World, reflected in the looping fire emojis and soar in viewership. Their camaraderie and chemistry reminded many of the distant days of face-to-face concerts, especially as they performed their 1992 hit Falling in Love All Over Again. They upheld their tradition of switching roles, with Banton singing Hammond’s part, and the elder doing his best deejay impression, leaning back, moving his waist and drawing his words.
Banton then paid homage to the singer through song and sentiment.
“You sang this song about 30 years ago,” he said before belting Hammond’s Can’t Walk Away. Hammond joined in on the impromptu performance.
“Mi never know yuh know all dem song deh, yaa mi fan enuh,” he said
“Big time,” replied Banton. “The work that you’ve put een in this industry, it’s only because my people refuse to see why they don’t see cause the world see it. We apprecilove you enuh, every day.”
They hugged before singing another classic, Can You Play Some More.
This kind of friendship and intimacy continued when Marcia Griffiths graced the stage. The songbirds stood close together and held hands as they sang their 1993 hit Live On, and also hugged at the end of the performance.
Popcaan was the final guest act, and it came as no surprise as the ‘Unruly Boss’ is highly regarded by the elders of the fraternity, but also has been spotted at Harmony House on several occasions.
“There’s a young man who I have so much admiration for and me and this kid yah happen fi just do a tune the other day,” he said. “It nuh come out or anything but I so much love this song and I hope I ‘member it.”
Whistles roared as Poppy made his entrance, but before they sang God is Love, the deejay had a toast to make.
“Before mi even sing nothing mi haffi seh salute to a living legend. Salute, love.”
The track is the collaboration we didn’t know we needed; a reflective reggae number on being covered through prayer (cue Miss Rhona) and God’s love, despite the efforts of the envious. From Hammond holding Popcaan’s shoulder to the men hugging and shaking hands, it was, as Hammond described, “beautiful”.
The lovers rock charmer
While the guest appearances were a major highlight of the evening, Mr Hugh Beresford Hammond is a wholesome experience by himself.
Dressed in his signature ensemble (cap, dress shirt and pants), the singer took patrons on a sweet Sunday stroll of the times we used to rock away.
“You know it’s been close to two years since I’ve been on a stage and that’s not feeling good,” he said. “I miss my fans, miss everyone…but I hope that tonight we can once come together and enjoy ourselves.”
Enjoy himself he did. The 65-year-old skanked during Can’t Stop A Man, did his foot-stomps in No Goodbye, and occasionally switched things up by sitting on the platform and kicking it with the bassist.
There was also the musical brilliance. He seamlessly interlaced Barbara Streisand’s The Way We Were in his performance of Come Back Home, went church organs on Love Means Never To Say I’m Sorry (hello Sunday
night service!), and lined-up a sexy sax solo on Tempted to Touch.
Encores were inevitable and deserving, but not overused. His expansive catalogue was best arranged to give fans a taste of everything, from his ear-caressing falsettos of No Disturb Sign, groovy feels of What One Dance Can Do, impassioned notes of She Loves Me Now, storytelling of Sweet Lies and charisma of Sweetness. The treat continued with tunes like Groovy Little Thing, Kids Play, I Could Beat Myself, Full Attention, Double Trouble, They Gonna Talk and Putting Up Resistance.
He also performed newer music like the 2020 release Call to Duty.
In his closing performance of Rock Away, he paid homage to late acts Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Alton Ellis, U-Roy, John Holt and Toots Hibbert.
He also left his fans with an assuring message.
“Looking forward, always, to seeing you face-to-face… Give it some time, it’s gonna happen again.”