Hit after hit after hit echoed through Kensington Oval last night and it had nothing to do with cricket.
From the sweet Bajan spouge beat of the 60s and 70s, to unique soca rhythms, to jazz and pop, a medley of authentic Bajan music could be heard for miles as the country celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a 50th Anniversary of Independence Mega Concert.
The free show began at 9:30 p.m., as Prime Minister Freundel Stuart took the stage with Britain’s Prince Harry, Barbadian songstress Rihanna and Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxine McClean.
The sweet voices of the National Youth Choir rang out across the grounds as they sang the National Anthem.
Following a blessing on the event and speeches from Stuart and Prince Harry, the show began with students doing a choreographed piece to the Merrymen’s hit tune God Bless Bim, quickly followed by Paula Hinds performing Walking Up the King’s Highway, and – not to be outdone – Sister Marshall in her national colours lustily belting out Walk Holy.
Thousands took up every vantage point from the stands to the grounds, rocking and waving their flags. Some who couldn’t get a spot in front of the stage opted to sit on the lush green before the big screen.
“It’s so good. It gives me the Bajan feeling . . .The ole ole songs come back to muh head,” St Michael resident Cheryl Yearwood told Barbados TODAY as she gave the thumbs up and danced, while St John resident Danny Pinder said: “Great show . . . but I waiting for Lil Rick.”
The patrons, who were mostly decked out in the national colours, heard hits from groups and artistes such as Spice & Company, Smokey Burke, Tony Grazettes, Richard Stoute, Rupee, Biggie Irie, RBP, Allison Hinds and Edwin, Arturo Toppin, Peter Ram, Mr Dale, Damian Marvay, Two Mile Hill, Lil Rick, Wendy Alleyne, saxophonist Elan Trotman and calypso queen Aziza, among others. However no one made the crowd go wild like Grynner.
With his signature tunes and movements, he thoroughly entertained the crowd and had patrons shouting “we want more, we want more” as he made his way off-stage. But it was to no avail. As they say, the show must go on, and “de old dog’s” appearance came around the midnight mark in any case.
Barbadian Kathy Cummins, who has been living in New York for the past 40 years, said: “It was excellent; much more than expected. I am proud to be a Bajan”.
Andrea Dennis, who lives in England and whose mother was Barbadian, said she made the trip home for her mother.
“She passed away on January 4 this year and it was her intention to come home for the 50th, so I did it for her.”
As performers took to the stage, backed by dancers for all genres of music and our very own Mother Sally, patrons grooved and moved to the hits, clearly having a grand time.
However, disappointment came just around 2 a.m. after a video tribute to Rihanna, who had earlier made a brief appearance on stage during the singing of the National Anthem, began on the big screens. Fans began to run to the front of the stage anticipating that home girl RiRi would perform, but it was not to be.
Instead, the trio of Nikita, Ch’an and Betty Griffith-Payne paid tribute to the pop star. And while the performance was credible, the crowd basically stood still, wondering if Rihanna would ever appear.
“I am disappointed, especially in the prelude. You are sitting down waiting, you get excited, but then you get duped. The girls are good, but they do not have her swag,” Gayle Pilgrim from Brooklyn told Barbados TODAY.
Another patron, Shanelle Richards from Toronto said: “They were good, but everyone was expecting Rihanna to perform and that’s where the disappointment came.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Shakeila Browne and Kyla Straughn of St George.
“Very, very entertaining but, to me, Rihanna could have sung just one song,” Browne said
However, Jeremy Marshall from St James was not perturbed.
“Tonight’s show was brilliant. No disappointing moments,” he told Barbados TODAY.
After an over five-hour show, great company, food, drink and dancing, the curtain came down with a three-minute long fireworks display to Lil Rick’s Party Monarch tune Iz a Bajan. And although they didn’t pay a cent, if they had, patrons would certainly have agreed that they got their money’s worth.