Wayne Wonder, I-Wayne kick off U.S. tour in Boston
Near-freezing temperatures weren’t enough to keep faithful Greater Boston fans from seeing two of the biggest attractions in the world of dancehall and reggae music at the Roxy earlier this month. As the great Selectah Junior Rodigan spun timeless records, hundreds gathered Jan. 16 at the legendary nightclub to see international sensations I-Wayne and Wayne Wonder, the opening date of the duo’s 18-city “Wayne’s World” U.S. tour.
“I’m so hyped right now — this is my first show and I love I-Wayne,” said Nicole Richardson of Roxbury, as many ecstatic fans rushed to position themselves by the stage at the opening performance.
Another person anxious to start the show was artist Fire Star, I-Wayne’s friend and the night’s opening act.
“Well, this is the first show, so we just want to keep the fire blazing and turn it up even more, you know,” said the fledgling artist.
Hailing from the rough area of Portmore, Jamaica — home to many of the island’s top artists, including I-Wayne, Anthony B and Vybz Kartel — Fire Star opened the concert with a commanding set, highlighted by a strong delivery and enlightening lyrics that were a welcome departure from such a relatively unknown artist.
Pandemonium ensued when the soft-spoken man of melodies I-Wayne took the stage to a roaring round of applause. The singer effortlessly weaved in and out of his many hits, including “Living In Love,” “Book of Life” (the single from his latest album of the same name), and the enchanting “Need Her In I Arms.”
The screams of female patrons were a constant throughout the performance, as many fans sang and squirmed to get I-Wayne’s attention. As the singer’s set closed, several daring female fans hustled their way backstage with photographers and reporters in hopes of scoring a picture with their beloved artist.
The night was far from over as the sensual crooner Wayne Wonder made his way to the stage, the 20-year veteran’s sweet sounds eliciting an unbelievable degree of energy on the dance floor.
Legions of fans sang along word for word as one of Kingston’s favorite sons ran through various selections from his extensive catalogue. Fans responded favorably to the “For My Love,” featuring rapper Trina, the single from his latest album “Foreva,” but it was the singer’s classic records that lifted the audience to new heights.
Screams of “I love you, Wayne” — along with many more suggestive propositions — soared from the crowd to the stage as the opening notes to “No Letting Go,” the crooner’s breakthrough 2003 hit (which peaked at Number 11 on the Billboard charts) began.
Well aware of his fans’ affinity to his selections, the artist paused momentarily throughout each song, allowing people to sing the lyrics without interruption. But while the music is essential, it is the dance itself that characterizes a proper dancehall, and backed by a live band, Wonder showed everyone he could still “buss di dance” during an entertaining bridge in his performance.
There are those who argue that the advent of the Internet and file-sharing technology has crippled the music industry, shortening the lifespan of a host of would-be entertainers. But Wayne Wonder presses on, holding down his spot in an exclusive class of entertainers who have earned their longevity. While many shoot for success, most fall short; it’s a testament to Wonder’s love of his art that he never has.
“I just stay true to what I’m doing — it’s from my heart. I don’t think about doing it to be successful,” the singer says. Sensing a follow-up question, he adds, “I do it so people can appreciate it — forever.”