Gladiators battle in song
ON MAKE OR BREAK NIGHT at The Village Gate, Waterford, St Michael, three Super Gladiators got the “thumbs up” from the crowd by way of encores.The other calypsonians, even though they gave decent accounts of themselves, probably only served to help the judges identify these standouts.At 8:15 p.m., Francois opened the “games” with AIDS, an educational commentary about the world’s most dreaded disease, complete with gesticulations of pain and anguish. His post-intermission offering, Show Me Your Colours, was more uptempo and did not present much of a vocal challenge.The first artiste to get an encore was Apollo. Dressed immaculately in a white suit, he sang about what his followers want.“These are the Issues that you bring…This is why we want you to sing.”Apollo himself has needs too – he ended his chorus with the plea “Ah want a car . . .”
In the second half, he rendered Going To Paris (and this may very well be a spelling mistake) which, like Issues, had great crowd appeal. It was a more lyrically complex tune, but the message was not lost: “If somebody get you vex, do like the Minister of Finance . . . Tell them go to Paris instead of going to France”.The introduction for the next “E”-lypsonian (a calypsonian who gets an encore), Dre, was enough to get patrons overly excited. And he did not disappoint. As he sang the Sir Don-penned Entrepreneurs, the crowd ate up everything Dre put in the vendors’ trays. From mangoes to feminine underwear, he disclosed “They ain’t pon de block playing cards and dominoes . . . The fellows now calling themselves entrepreneurs.” If the judges were moved like the entire Village Gate posse, Dre can easily pick a number between one and 18.Note to Dre: Hold back a verse just in case you get an encore.The Gladiator queen, Malika, who won the in-house competition this week, showed why her accomplishment was a bone fide one in all respects. Like a true champion, she saved the best for last. The first half featured The Bajan Dream – big house, big ride, etc. – but “It’s only dream . . . You must be asleep to believe.”But with a lyrically strong song and showing good energy, her second half performance of Order In The House was over the top. Draped in rope wig and House Speaker-like robe, her passion and use of the stage confirmed her royal status. And bellowing: “Order, order . . . order in the house, Not one word, shut up yuh mout’,” it was no surprise she, too, got an “E”.Of the other acts for the night, standouts were Dragon Slayer, for his spirited rendition of Stop Blaming The Guyanese (self-explanatory) and Jah Stone, with Federation Children, which journeyed back to the days of the West Indies Federation.There were only two disruptive elements for the night – Julian Hunte, who took every opportunity to blow his conch shell, and a wayward cockroach which threatened the peace of mind of some female patrons up front. An overly-sensitive amplifier was all that spoiled an otherwise problem-free technical production.Also facing the judges were Bumba (Who Is To Blame, Positive), Ken Clarke (I Can See, More Time), Sage (Social Lies, I Don’t Want It), Juel (My Dream, My Vision), Musical (Solutions, Flag Above The Rest), Facial (The Wrong Thing), Slyla-ry (Ice), Iteba (Tell Them Iteba, I Mean It), and Delight (The Songwriter, My Country Is Dying).