Buju Banton performed like he never left in his first ‘Long Walk to Freedom’ concert after imprisonment.
Freed Jamaican singer Buju Banton performed for the first time in eight years and he did not come to play as he owned the stage at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica on Saturday night (16.03.19) in a concert dubbed ‘Long Walk to Freedom’.
Dressed in all white, the ‘Gargamel’ hit the stage about 11:20 p.m and performed into the wee hours of the morning. Buju’s first show had over 32,000 fans from across the globe who thronged the stadium eager to see the Grammy winner in action. From his opening to ‘Not An Easy Road’ onwards, he did not miss a beat. It was Buju in his element, from his familiar mannerisms to his stage presence, it was as if the years of him being away simply disappeared. The reggae artiste is truly back and in full form.
The Jamaican Observer reported that the 45-year-old delivered an almost two-hour set, hopping across the stage with youthful agility. Classics such as ‘Hills And Valleys’ and ‘Destiny’ were impeccably delivered backed by his Til Shiloh bandmates. Not forgetting his dancehall roots, Buju let go some waist-moving hits like ‘Champion’ and ‘Too Bad’.
But he didn’t do it all alone. He was joined for a moment by the legendary Marcia Griffiths, whom he said was like a mother to him, his longtime collab partner and veteran singer Beres Hammond, hitmaker Wayne Wonder as well as British Jamaican rapper Stefflon Don. Cocoa Tea, Etana, Koffee, Romain Virgo, Chris Martin, and Chronixx also performed at the concert. Buju ended the show with a collabo with Morgan Heritage star, Gramps Morgan for Psalm 23.
“We love you!” were his finals words as his two-hour long performance came to an end and fireworks lit up the night sky over Kingston’s National Stadium.
Buju was arrested on drug-related charges in the United States in 2009 and his first trial resulted in a hung jury. His 2010 album Before the Dawn won Best Reggae Album at the 53rd annual Grammy Awards. In 2011, he was convicted on the same criminal charge and was imprisoned in the U.S. until his release in December 2018, whereupon he returned home to Jamaica.