Iwer George (left) joins Kees on stage during Tuesday on the Rocks (TOTR) concert on Tuesday evening at the Queen’s Park Oval. (Picture by Jermaine Cruickshank, courtesy Trinidad Express)
“I know it was real pressure getting in and I apologise, but we here now so leh we have a good time.”
Those were the words of consolation from Kes (Kees Dieffenthaller) to a massive impatient audience at the start of his Tuesday on the Rocks (TOTR) concert, on Tuesday evening, at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.
Thousands of patrons were forced to endure the frustrating task of entering the concert main area, at the north western gate to the venue, through one small entryway.
It was a massive planning oversight and a logistical disaster. They filled Havelock Street, from sidewalk to sidewalk, to the west and spilled off the sidewalk onto the west-bound lane of St. Clair Avenue to the north of the venue all in an all mighty attempt to go through four turnstiles.
Remarkably, all other gates, with the exception of one on Elizabeth Street on the eastern side of the venue, reserved for VIP ticketholders, and one on the southern side along Tragarete Road, dedicated to backstage access, remained closed.
A few impatient fete-goers were seen scaling the scaffolding at the main entry, while others ducked between the structured metal poles much like a boxer entering the ring.
There was no bobbing and weaving from their pent up frustration, however, when Kes finally took to the stage just before 11 p.m. to finally start the show. Wisely the Kes the Band lead singer begged his supporters’ forgiveness. He rewarded their cheers of acceptance by giving them full reason to “free up” in his “sweetful botanical” with a passionate performance of his Road March frontrunner Savannah Grass.
Thousands of hands on the cricket field, hundreds more in the stands and a few more in the corporate boxes surrounding the venue went skyward as voices lifted in unison to sing the song’s now famous chorus line.
It was embattled soca star Neil “Iwer” George that had the performance of the night, however, when he ran on TOTR during the concert’s finale sequence.
George, who turned down an open invitation to settle an ongoing musical feud with Machel Montano and appear at his Machel Monday concert, shocked concert-goers when he burst on to the stage in a pink and white suit and asked to see their hands.
The energy from crowd to performer was electric as every single hand in the venue pumped up and down for his 2009 monster hit Let Meh See yuh Han’.
“He gave me advice when I was growing up. This (Iwer’s presence) is not because of no feud or no war. I don’t believe we should use soca music for no war. I want to pay respect to this man in the business. I am going for my blessings right now,” Kes told the audience, when they finally came to a standstill, before bowing for Iwer to pour water on his head.
The self-proclaimed soca water lord’s subsequent call for the feting crowd to “come in front for their blessings” was met with renewed enthusiasm as he sent the entire venue, including comedian Sunny Bling (Kerron Sealey), into another massive uproar.
Earlier, Kes’ vocals were polished, his band tight and his stage show visually appealing throughout. He followed his Savannah Grass opening with a medley of his up tempo hits including: I Shall Return, Incredible and Million, but failed to recreate the energy of his entrance. That was until he asked Nadia Batson and later Farmer Nappy to take control of centre stage with their respective 2019 fete favourites So Long and Hookin Meh.
The duo received a hero’s welcome from the crowd and provided the perfect platform for Kes to roll out his groovy soca credentials. He performed Fallin and Ting before hyping the receptive crowd with his 2011 International Soca Monarch Groovy Soca winner Wotless.
“Am I the Groovy Soca King? Respect to Machel Montano, make some noise for Machel, but I am the Groovy Soca King,” Kes said to vociferous cheers of approval.
Jamaican dancehall star Shenseea (Chinsea Lee) didn’t add much value to the production when she appeared to sing her newly-released collaboration with Kes Stay Close. The audience blinked through much of her performance of her single Shen Yeng and only seemed overly interested when she acrobatically jumped into a split.
The St. Mary’s, Jamaica-born act could only manage a halfway response from the crowd when she invited local starlet Nailah Blackman to perform their 2018 collaboration Baddish. Blackman herself received lots of love with her solo number Iron Love and debut soca song Work Out which features Kes. (Trinidad Express)