It was actually good: Shaggy and Sean Paul deliver a mid-week dancehall spectacular

It was actually good: Shaggy and Sean Paul deliver a mid-week dancehall spectacular

Sean Paul
1 / 3
Words by Luke Carlino
Pics by Andrew Bibby

This was a blast from the past.

Nostalgia is a lot of fun. Who doesn’t want to relive, briefly, the blue light disco experiences of your teen years? Luckily, two of the most prominent artists to have frequented the DJ sets back then are touring Australia to make sure your youth doesn’t completely fade away.

Shaggy and Sean Paul announced a range of co-headline sideshows as part of their One Love Festival appearance on the Gold Coast, and after a venue downgrade from the possibly over-ambitious Sidney Myer Music Bowl to a much more suitable Forum, the Jamaican rapper and pop-reggae superstar were all set.

US-based reggae-pop artist Josh WaWa White set the chilled dance vibes early before Shaggy took the stage to a very-excited room in one of the finest hats this reviewer has ever seen. Pulling out the big guns early including ‘Mr Boombastic’, you would have possibly been a little bit caught off-guard by just how good Shaggy and his five-piece band were.

A lot of ’90s pop revival shows can be a touch phoned-in, heavy in backing tracks with performers who are out of breath and practice, but Shaggy, and Sean Paul, avoided all of these pitfalls. Both sets featured talented musicians and energetic performances, despite the performers toggling their 50s.

Shaggy dropped his hits like ‘Oh Carolina’, a dancehall remake of the single by The Folkes Brothers, ‘Angel’, and his range of collabs with people like Kylie Minogue and Sting. There was plenty of crowd interaction and hyping, pitting the sides of the room against each other in a party off, and even some dancehall dance lessons that revealed a few too many Shaggy nipples. His set ended with his continued staunch denial of his involvement in anything untoward. We believe you, Shaggy; it wasn’t you.

Sean Paul took the energy up yet another notch, offsetting Shaggy’s pop-heavy vibes with a set of pure dancehall power through his hits ‘Temperature’, ‘Got 2 Luv U’, his breakthrough single ‘Get Busy’ and the Dua Lipa collaboration ‘No Lie’.

Paul filled the stage with musicians and back up-dancers, delivering a near-constant high-energy beat and throwing many, many sweat-filled towels into the rambunctious audience. Both performers did a brilliant job of putting their musical and creative Jamaican culture on display in what was anything but a tame Wednesday night.

The classic dancehall-style beat is prevalent in pop music these days, but there is a certain special energy to it when delivered by Jamaican artists who have flown its flag for over twenty years, as both Shaggy and Sean Paul have. The ’90s are alive and well for those who wish to relive them.

Highlight: The reminder that the ’90s had some straight bangers.

Lowlight: Sean Paul’s songs seemed to all sound the same after a while.

Crowd favourite: Shaggy’s graphic dancehall dance lessons