SEAN PAUL with KARDINAL OFFISHALL , IN ESSENCE and MELANIE DURRANT at Molson Amphitheatre, August 22. Tickets: $35. Attendance: 8,000. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
Sean Paul has single-handedly brought dancehall reggae back into the mainstream over the past year. Even those who consider themselves too underground for commercial music can't stop talking about him. Who would have guessed, though, that his main audience would turn out to be 15-year-old girls? He's obviously aware of the change in his fan base, calling out to "all the sexy ladies" every chance he got throughout his one-hour set, to adoring screams at the Molson Amphitheatre .
So what if it wasn't a real down and dirty dancehall concert, and so what if the Molson Amphitheatre isn't the best place for dancing? Sean Paul proved he can hold his own as a pop star.
Taking the stage with a small band, he delivered a fast-paced set, jumping quickly from hit to hit. The band was an unexpected touch, as his music is very programmed and electronic on disc, but the four-piece did a great job of approximating his trademark sound.
The stage set-up was pretty bare-bones for a big pop concert. A handful of dancers and some basic big-show lighting effects were the only concessions to the stadium show format. Instead of elaborate video projections and set pieces, Paul relied on his own presence and the strength of the material. He ran back and forth across the stage for the entire show, pogoing up and down furiously, and was sweating buckets by the end.
Strangely, even though the crowd was asking for it, he didn't do an encore. Many in the crowd were grumbling loudly about this on the way out. Perhaps - typical of low-key T.O. audiences - the crowd didn't cheer loudly enough at the end, but whatever the reason, the early exit was conspicuous.