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Big, loud and bland

by John Sealy

Big, loud and bland

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THE ATMOSPHERE in the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre ran parallel with the overcast and gloomy weather outside. There was not much of a silver lining at De Digicel Big Show’s tepid first-time appearance for Crop-Over 2010 on Sunday night. Before a reasonably large crowd, singer after singer entered and exited, as has happened year after year. One could not help wondering “I have seen and heard this all before”: the lyrical blandness, musical monotony, and loudness.That the band, according to the musical director, was coming in on only four rehearsals might have been excusable for the moment – but a few more sessions should surely make things better. If you cannot hear the singer, it means simply that the band is too loud. The bandleader must let his musicians know they are not there to outplay one another, but as accompaniment for the singer. The musicians and soundman must communicate, ever being vigilant to cater to the level and tone of the singer’s voice.Against that background, it might not have been all Pompey’s fault that one could not understand the lyrics in his first song Man Killing Man. Man Killing Man works melodically; however, Pompey needs to de-emphasise his infatuation with dancing and pay greater attention to his breathing. Traditional styleNothing For Free, his second piece, is a flowing calypso delivered in the traditional style with more control of poise. “You don’t get nothing free – not from a lady,” a line went. Sheldon Hope, one of the better performers and voices, flashed back to last year’s Last Days with Last Days Revisited. His second piece was Hope. Both underscore Hope’s Christian character, with the former getting an encore. One can’t disagree with Hope that he “is highly favoured and – don’t talked about blessed”, but his singing was rushed, and his arrangements sounded more like clashing cymbals on opening night. Serenader’s Top Up Or Card is a ditty highlighting the ubiquitous nature of the mobile phone and the addiction it causes. It was delivered in rhythmic style with lots of waist movements. His second song, Ragga Rock, a fast-paced, catchy number, with driving arrangement, which called on party-goers “to come to the left and swing to the right”.   Margaret Bovell was back on the competitive stage – after her last appearance in 1998. Armed with lots of style and stage craft, she was philosophical in Let The Love Begin – done in a minor key. She returned in the second half with On De Road that seeks to capture the spirit of the festival. Tejay of Strategy Band, boasting lots of stage appeal, was in a Bust Ah Wine mood with a catchy piece characterised by lots of rhythm and movement.  StimulusTC’s Stimulus – her only song – draws on the “foolishness” to give her enough stimulus and “get her excited” to open me mout’” this year.The inimitable Ras Iley is still making a case for the Rasta in an ordinary piece Time For Rasta. But his second number, the uptempo We Need A Song, is stronger, enhanced by appealing horn riffs. Kirk Brown’s Dat Is All I Want in the party mode is also a catchy number with a singable melody and hook; but Kirk has to acknowledge the limits of his voice.Gyrnner’s Come Leh We Dance is still a work in progress, unfortunately.Natahlee is consistent with Look For Me, but we have to wait and see how it will hit during the season.Defending champion Red Plastic Bag brought down the curtain with La La La.  Leah, with Ole Days and Very First Wine, opened the show and got good response.The comedic input from emcee Jennifer Walker should not be taken for granted. Her jokes, delivered in self-deprecating style, worked for her as she reheated the night’s generally cold offerings into something palatable.