Reflecting on the high that was Ancient Future Live with Protoje and the Indiggnation fills me with a sense of deep appreciation for the cohesive and stellar display of musicianship that was conveyed February 20th, 2016 under a fully moon lit sky in Kingston, Jamaica.
Reggae music is still king and the full cast of appearances for the night testified to this in lyrical delivery, vocal ability and skillful instrumental support. The high points of the evening are many and I intend to share my impressions of the Ancient Future Live experience. To date, it is the most impeccable production I have seen locally and I want to salute Protoje and his team for the high quality standard he strives to maintain. It speaks volumes about his understanding of not only producing stellar music but transitioning that to a live experience with the audience in a very organic space.
The Shell Band Stand provided the perfect ambiance to “fulljoy” introductory musical selections for the evening from Yaadcore. No stranger to the reggae revival terrain, the musical connoisseur guided patrons through a diverse mix of reggae royalty's finest songs and kept patrons entertained until the start of the show. The task of introducing the man and band of the evening was most suitably and efficiently done by Dutty Bookman.
The Indiggnation greeted the now swelling Hope Gardens space with clear and crisp sounds which beckoned on stage, Protoje. He opened the musical feast with Criminal, Track 2 from the album. The musical experience of Ancient Future Live had begun. His presence on stage reflected the years of experience playing internationally to various audiences across the globe, but you could tell it was a joy to be able to give his home this special show the only one of its kind since his first album in 2010.
As the opening notes of Protection rang out through the venue Protoje handed over the spotlight to Mortimer who heralded a throng to pull closer to the stage as they performed Track 1 from the album. Judging from the reaction of fans this was a favourite. Following this Protoje launched into Warrior on which he was featured with Kabaka Pyramid. To the audience's delight, he was giving us Ancient Future Live a fusion of sounds, songs and styles. This was quickly followed by his rendition of Police in helicopter before the seamless transition to All Will Have to Change then Bubbling, track 4 and 8 respectively. Protoje followed on closing with lines from Jah 9’s Steamers a Bubble and his own Marijuana.
Protoje was amply supported in sound and precision by the InDiggNation. They provided a sonically brillant experience like no other. Every member played their part to keep proper timing and tune which added extra flair to the evening of music. I did not just see quality, I felt and heard it in my mind body.
The packaged experience was also made complete with visuals on screen produced by creatives Taj Francis and Yannick Reid. They provided visual brilliance to the story being told on stage and were a perfect complement to the aura created by melting pot of audience steeped in musical appreciation reciprocating what they were receiving from the Indiggnation.
As the Ancient Future album continued to unfold song by song Protoje continued to intersperse, songs from various musical influences such as Baby Cham and Bounty Killa Look into My Eyes & Another Level). They were quite appropriate and really created a feeling of nostalgia. I believe it also spoke to the multidimensionality of artistic influences on the artist, which had personified itself into the manifestation of Ancient Future album. This was the introduction to Styling track 5, which was presented in fine style (pun intended). I was quite impressed with Paris Lamont’s support of Protoje’s delivery on keyboard. He rendered Black Uhuru Shine Eye Gal, Outkast So fresh and So Clean with Protoje sealing the deal with lyrical excerpts from Keida’s Jamaican Boy. It was perfect.
The man of the moment Diggy also displayed his skillful lyricism delivering fresh freestyles to the delight of his overwhelmingly adoring following. He was joined on stage shortly thereafter by the lovely Sevana and together they gave us Love Gone Cold, track 6 twisted with No Lipstick from the 7 Year Itch album. This segued into Who Can You Call track 10. The features from the previous two albums continued with musical mention of Roll and Come My Way from the 8th Year Affair.
Sudden Flight track 7 was next on the agenda which saw Sevana returning to the stage joined by the small axe, Jesse Royal. Surprise Guest, Agent Sasco, joined the trio on stage to much delight and welcome, his presence injected more excitement to the building pitch of high vibes. Protoje closed out this section with Hail Ras Tafari from the 8th Year Affair. Chronixx joined him to perform track 3, Who Knows, which has enjoyed widespread success. The musical comradery was as usual nice to see and experience, Chronixx ‘s melodies are unmatched and his delivery of Spanish Town Rockin’ and Smile Jamaica were quality and definite crowd pleasers.
It was at this juncture that as we say “di dancehall mash up” when Protoje called his mother, Lorna Bennett, on stage who showcased her deejay skills. The audience was overcome and showed their appreciation with fingers in air, confirming that musical shots had been fired. It was simply a joy to see so much support and love displayed in this moment. In this moment I felt the words he bellowed “This is Protoje! This is the Indiggnation, Reggae wi a play n we do this everyday”. The Flame closed out the night’s performances with Kabaka Pyramid coming on stage to put the icing on a well-produced and flawless experience.
The full cast then returned to the stage to resounding applause from their now grateful recipients who knew well they had just experienced magic. Ancient Future Live was worth every dollar and cent spent to make the production come alive and provide an experience like no other. It is a standard for how music should be delivered to an audience and an ode to the journey of the man with the seven year Itch a celebration of his accomplishments and testament to his solid presence in the musical landscape. If you missed it, you missed an evening of musicianship extraordinaire sealed with love and joy that only the King’s music can provide. Reggae lives it never died, Live Music is Living music; this remains my testimony after basking in the experience that was Ancient Future Live.
Go out and get the album available on I-tunes and support the artist. You may also like to read my review of the album Protoje’s Ancient Future: The Progression. It was a pleasure to convey in words a memorable night of music with a message.
Photos contributed by Jaysmilez Photography
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