Posted on

Big show with a bang

John Sealy

Big show  with a bang

Social Share

MEMORIES of the good old days when Bajans turned out in their hundreds to hear the latest in calypso for the Crop-Over Festival were brought back last Friday night. It was just that kind of moment at the Loyld Erskine Sandiford Centre.So large was the crowd that De Digicel Big Show organisers had to close doors temporarily to accommodate the spill-over. With doors locked, those on the outside waited anxiously for some direction – that eventually came – to be admitted to see which of the “big” kaiso names would get the judges’ nod to go forward in this year’s Pic-O-De-Crop and Party Monarch competitions. And patrons were not disappointed. By now the public would have known who have gone onto the Pic-O-De-Crop semis and the Party Monarch finals, but that should not take away from reporting that judging night was a highly competitive and well produced big show.It was certainly a step-up from opening night. The band was flawless. The sound system was palatable. And credit goes to the sound team for creating an ambience suited to clarity and comfort that allowed the audience to understand the singers’ lyrics. MC Mac Fingall steered the ship well. His wit and ability to let the people see the joke in themselves were rewarded with lots of laughter.But there was no denying that the focus of the night was on a successful return to competition calypso by Gabby after being out since 2008. And with defending monarch nine-time calypso king RPB his tent mate, who also performed Friday night, one could not delink the two in anticipation of “a mother of all clashes” at the finals,given the historical rivalry of the Gabby and Bag camps.There is no dispute that Gabby and RPB are two of “the most popular” calypsonians in Barbados, with hundreds of zealous supporters to boot.But “The Gabberts” – as some people call him – is not one to prepare you for what he “would come with”, and more often than not is the subject of much debate after the dust settles.RPB on the other hand provides his fans with a number of choices, allowing them to buy into his mission statements. That was evident last Friday.Take Gabby’s Oh Haiti, an emotional exposition of the continual plight of the Haitian people. The piece was transported on an arrangement filled with wailing horns, chord progressions, big band sound and lyrical repetition for effect. His next number Ole’ Ashae was strong in Latin influences. The melody was playful but carried lyrics that spoke to a syngery among the different Caribbean musics. There was no outward emotion coming from the audience, however, who sat seemingly spellbound by Gabby’s effort to take calypso beyond the expected.On the other hand, RPB’s Sign Of The Times and La La La got immediate response. The audience joined in with every line and action of the song. RPB was not only king of calypso but seemed king of the crowd. He almost didn’t have do any singing. There is no doubt that his popularity encapsulates a cross-section of the people.The other calypsonians did not take away from the production in terms of performance. Margaret Bovell’s Let The Love Begin and Free Up Yourself were catchy and euro-focused in nature. Pompey was an improved act in diction and delivery with The Apocalypse and Man Killing Man, TC’s Out of Control and Stimulus were a bit repetitive melodically; Serenader’s Ragga Rock and Top Up Or Card are also catchy but not competitive lyrically. Same with Ras Iley’s Time For Rasta, although We Need A Song has nice bounce.Sheldon Hope and John King are excellent singers. Hope’s Hope and Last Days Revisited and King’s Ah Gun Done and Jacksonian are not gems.Young Leah who opened the show sang New Generation and Old Days. She also competed in the Party Monarch with First Wine. Natahlee and Kirk Brown also competed in the Party Monarch contests. Brown’s We Representing was more infectious than Natahlee’s Whole Day.Those who have gone through now prepare for the next stage.  [email protected]