Bonnaroo can be such an exhausting adventure and Saturday was no exception. With a heat index nearly to 100, one had to do whatever could be done to avoid the heat. Sitting at the main stage waiting for the legendary Jimmy Cliff to perform I could feel the sweat just dripping of my face and for that matter, everywhere else on my body.
Nevertheless, it was an opportunity of a lifetime to get to see the reggae legend from Kingston, Jamaica perform only a few yards away. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame member got things kicked off with a great version of You Can Get It If You Really Want. His set also included a fantastic cover of Yusuf Islam’s (aka Cat Stevens) Wild World. The set was very politically infused, with Jimmy discussing the oil spill in the gulf and that led into a song about global warming. Cliff later changed the lyrics of his own song titled Vietnam to make it relevant about the war in Afghanistan.
Up next was one of my favorite and most anticipated performances of the weekend – Mumford and Sons. I was extremely surprised and impressed by how many people were in attendance at this show, particularly because the Avett Brothers had an almost identical time slot. You could feel that the crowd was hungry for the performance, as they sang along to every single song. The band opened with Sigh No More and immediately went into The Cave. The vocals on Awake My Soul were particularly poignant. The surprise of the show was the appearances of Dave Rawlings, Gillian Welch and members of Old Crow Medicine Show to perform the band’s own Roll Away Your Stone and then a rip-roaring version of OCMS’s Wagon Wheel.
READ ON for more from Jennifer on Saturday at Bonnaroo…
[Mumford & Sons]
Following Mumford and Sons was the legendary singer-songwriter, John Prine. Prine performed several of his classics including Crooked Piece of Time, Grandpa Was A Carpenter and Souvenirs. At the end of his set, world renowned Kris Kristofferson – who had watched the entire performance side stage – and members of Old Crow took the stage to join Mr. Prine for Lake Marie and Paradise. Meanwhile, Weezer put on a show that included classics like Undone (The Sweater Song), Say It Ain’t So, and My Name Is Jonas. The band also performed several newer songs, including Beverly Hills, Pork and Beans, and popular covers in the form of MGMT’s Kids and Lady Gaga’s Poker Face.
Up next was the back to back headliners of Stevie Wonder and Jay-Z. Overall Stevie Wonder was an absolute delight and his backing band was top notch. He seemed to roll non-stop through each song with only occasional brief pauses for a small political rant or two. I loved the interaction he had with the crowd, a call and response if you will, to get the audience to participate in singing verses. During My Cherie Amour he joked saying “Don’t mess up my words.” All I could do at that point was smile and sing along myself. Other highlights from Mr. Wonder’s set included Superstition, Sir Duke, Give Up The Funk (Tear The Roof Off The Sucker) > Heard it Through the Grapevine, For Once in My Life, and Livin’ For the City. Overall, an amazing set from an amazing musician.
There was an extended break between Stevie and Jay-Z and I was curious if there would be any glitches in the stage setup like that of Kanye West only three short years ago. In an act of irony, ten minutes prior to the start of the show a countdown clock appeared on the stage video displays. The stage was setup with huge LED lights that resembled the New York City skyline and it looked beautiful.
The performance was non-stop from the beginning, kicking off with On To The Next One. He gave props to Jack White and Stevie Wonder, who were both side stage, stating that he “couldn’t wait to tell my mom that Stevie Wonder stayed for my set.” Each legends in their own right, it was nice to see Jay-Z show respect to his elder. He moved almost as quickly through his songs as he did roaming the stage. Hova’s set was chocked full of his hits including Takeover, 99 Problems, Can I Get A…, Heart of the City (which included a sample of U2′s Sunday Bloody Sunday, not the original sample), Empire State of Mind, Hard Knock Life and the appropriate show-closer Young Forever.
Overall a great day of music concluded by a rapper who wasn’t late and didn’t bitch about it the next day from his MacBook Pro — I’d consider that a success.