Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

Nairobi Underground Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

“Ever since we met Kenya, no need for running around, Kenya you cool me down!”

With these simple lines, Tarrus Riley  explained in a nutshell why Nairobi, and Kenya in particular was dear to him upon his return. It is 7.00 pm and we ride along into the city of Nairobi heading right to the KICC Grounds.

Despite some delays sorting media accreditation and some man handling of media personnel by the security, we spend the next minutes greeting friends and family, before entering the location, and being at once transported to the 21st of July 2018. As back then, Chronixx shared with us his album, Chronology. DJ Bash and radio host, Sheila Kwamboka are on stage warming up the early revelers. A day after the reggae fraternity had honoured Peter Tosh Earth Day. Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley Kenya Concert October 2018 Image by Homeboyz Radio

Not even the early evening showers seem to have deterred crowds from showing up at the grounds. Sharing their true emotions with us, Kenya’s mighty reggae band, Gravitti is first on stage.

Gravitti acting as the opener bring a slight different vibe. They play a set of their own records and a mash up of popular international reggae hits. ZJ Heno is up next on the breather.

The crowd rises once again to its feet as legendary Everton Blender takes the stage backed by Gravitti Band after Antigua sensation, Blessed Eye curtain raises. After the event later, we would see through Shane Brown of Jukeboxx Instagram stories, Tarrus Riley at the back stage watching keenly before jamming to Everton Blender through a live feed on the screen.

The stage needed the legend. He rocked an Yellow African print jacket with a white t-shirt and matching yellow shoes. The large number of hits Everton has accrued is most impressive. Yet his energy on stage, second to none and his signature whistling bird voice rocks the night. Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley Kenya Concert October 2018 Image by Biko Macoins

Empire Sound’s Teargas The Entertainer, hosted by Tallia Oyando (who was charged to introduce Just The Way You Are as she did on the music video) are charged with the chance of a lifetime before ZJ Heno and Kriss Darlin joined them on stage. To welcome the man of the moment, Tarrus Riley. As they charge the crowd, the Blak Soil Band entered stage, joined by saxophone maestro, Dean Fraser who beamed at the crowd in anticipation of the coming.

The lights come on and the first perceivable difference was the amount of people present, young and old, with a slight dominance of female fans. On stage, the well-established, quiet  producer, engineer and manager Shane Brown who could be seen at the controls, making some last adjustments to the sound-set. Before walking to the end of the stage and signalling Tarrus Riley. Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley Kenya Concert October 2018 Image by Biko Macoins

With an instrumental intro of his big hit, ‘Gimme Likkle One Drop,’ first came his voice and the verses flowed. He rocked a flowery shirt, black pants, a white cap and matching white sneakers. He smiled at everyone, “Mambo Kenya! Wagwan Kenya!” He thundered.

His set was eruptive from the onset, delivering an eruptions of dances, jumping and yes, the melodic lines and teachings of the Most High. With the new album (to be released in 2019), we can look forward to wonderful songs like Guess Who, which he performed to a receptive audience.

The spotlight lay on him but not one to be selfish, he shared that spotlight with Dean Fraser whose Redemption Song rendition with the saxophone exploded the venue, Kenyan star, Zikki, with whom they collaborated on the track called, ‘Kamata’ and who they would banter back and forth on stage as Riley belted some lines in Swahili to the excitement of the crowd, and finally with Everton Blender, who their ‘Lion Paw’ greeting on stage on the background of Nyabinghi drums lit up the night. The night was lit as the Kenyan flags alongside the red-gold and green flags were waved all night. A proper gathering of Rastafarians.

Throughout the show, he kept up this close contact with the audience, shaking hands over and over to the delight of the fans. He received his art gift before picking the Kenyan flag from the audience and waving it.

He asked the Most High to Bless Me. He delivered Parables that were Contagious, found She is Royal and took us to a Getty Getty No Wantee situation before he Cool Me Down. Together with the Blak Soil Band, a crowd that sang his songs word for word, at one point almost drowning him and Dean Fraser, over two hours, they took us on a breathtaking joyride through Human Nature, Love Contagious, Start A New and Superman. Concert Review & Photos: Nairobi 254 ‘‘Cools Down’ Tarrus Riley

Tarrus Riley Kenya Concert October 2018 Image by Biko Macoins

Then Wildfire started to spread. Amplified, it necessitated an instant pull up, before straying into J Boog’s Let’s Do It Again on the same riddim. The General Degree collaboration ‘Feeling Irie’ interlude refix: “La La La La Everybody Feeling Irie, Na Na Na Na No Bad Vibes Inna Di Party, La La La No 254 a Mi Family, Na Na Na Na No Party like a 254 Party,” ushered in the ‘Love Like Ours’ collaboration with Estelle.

Slowing down the pace with Simple Blessings collaboration with Konshens, Lion Paw and Shaka Zulu (where he honored the Kenyan ancestors on the same night Kenya was celebrating its heroes on Mashujaa Day), we almost felt as if the show was over because there had been so many hits already. Asking us if we are ready to go home (which of course was negated), ‘Sorry is a Sorry Word’ rocked us on.

After what felt like a 4-hour-show, Tarrus and the Blak Soil Band finally bowed and said their Goodbyes to honest, deafening long applause that didn’t stop until Tarrus Riley came back, dropped his Blue with gold African print jacket, and now rocking a black vest  for a final ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ order.

Teargas The Entertainer, Jah Watchman and Natty Bwoy of Agugu Gaga Family played till the wee hours of morning.

As we get into the car and drive off, we can’t shake the feeling. Nairobi cooled down Tarrus Riley but in actual sense, he cooled us down to a point we never want to recover from this night.

Catch a Special Interview With Tarrus Riley Live From 254 on Silver Star Sound!