As a couple of apparent French-Canadian extraction made their way up the paved slope from where they, along with a few hundred others, had enjoyed an evening of delightful music on the grounds of the picturesque Naniki Resort on Sunday, the female looked at her male companion and was overheard to quip: “C’etait un après-midi celeste.”
The petite Caucasian made no mention of the musical fare provided by David Rudder, Biggie Irie, Imani, Nikita, Jan Gibson, Joanna and Samantha Leacock, or the C4 Band. She made no reference to the bewitching backdrop of rolling hills in the distance, or the few dotted edifices that appeared to peek from the cover of heavy verdant fauna.
She said nothing of the quaint wooden cabins that added to the intimacy of Naniki’s rural St Joseph location. But she didn’t have to. The heavenly afternoon which had overwhelmed her was shared by all present for the Naniki Music Festival’s final evening.
Organizer Tom Hinds has a terrific brand, made even more so by one of the most gorgeous pieces of real estate in the country. And as he would later attest, the rebranded festival continues to grow each year. Though having not promoted the occasion as such, it is almost akin to an eco-festival.
Rudder was an absolute delight in Naniki’s musical garden. Not only did he entertain from onstage, but that he left the stage and spent a considerable time on the grounds singing in the middle of the crowd, to its backup vocals, seemed the most natural way to perform in such a setting.
He churned out many of his hits, inclusive of Girl From Bahia, Bacchanal Woman, Calypso, Hammer, Dust In Their Face and 868, a new song from his most recent album. But it was the one-on-one feeling which he created with the crowd that suggested he would have brought screams of approval if he had also sung Baa, Baa, Black Sheep. There were no stationary feet throughout his set, and for many in the audience whose inhibitions might have been “spirited” away from early in the day, age was simply a number.
Biggie Irie, too, was in splendid form. One can perhaps create no more connection with a local crowd than to call on them for one of the island’s favourite fermented brews. That having been achieved –– and sampled –– to rapturous applause, the silky-voiced entertainer thrilled the crowd with several of his uptempo numbers. From Pankatang and Nah Going Home to Can’t Be Over and Need Ah Riddim, the sweet soca man kept the energy at St Joseph’s Eden at an optimum.
He was joined during his set by the impressive Imani. Biggie Irie revealed it was the first time he was performing at the location, and in praising the site as one of the three best in the island, perhaps set the tone for the francophones when they later departed.
The show had got under way to the strains of Nikita, who was joined by the Leacocks and Gibson, and they set an excellent stage for what followed. They provided a pleasing mix of R&B and reggae numbers with the rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman, No Cry among the songs that got the crowd in the right mood for their subsequent experience.
A heavenly evening, indeed!