It was ‘only’ the tent’s judging night, but De Big Show put on a performance on Sunday night worthy of a Pic-O-De-Crop Final’s night. The Sea Rocks Dome at Maxwell, Christ Church rocked!
It is possible that as many as seven from this tent will advance to the Pic-O-De-Crop semifinals. If good reasoning and sanity prevail, Edwin Yearwood and Ian Webster are guaranteed semifinalists – on merit. It is more than likely that the 2017 monarch could come from De Big Show tent – on merit. After all, one doesn’t have to be able to re-split atoms or resurrect Chaucer from Westminster Abbey to identify quality.
It is often said that one does not have to be the best of singers to be a good calypsonian, but having excellent vocal skills never hurt and Yearwood and Webster not only showcased their excellent vocal abilities, but they delivered two calypsos each that will take them into the semifinals. And it should surprise no one if or when they are followed into the next round of the competition by Jamal Slocombe aka, J-Slo, Chrystal, TC, Classic, Mr Blood and Adrian AC Clarke could squeeze in as an eighth candidate.
Edwin was excellent in the first-half with Beggar, an emotive piece made even more heart-wrenching by his vocal prowess and the effort he put into the song. There were many songs on the night that “called out” the Barbados Government and among the questions Edwin asked was: “Why should people pay for Government’s mistakes?” He returned in the second half with the rollicking Tax-He that was a timely reminder that social commentary does not have to be any minimum level BPM. Edwin’s wasn’t exactly presto but the pace made fans move, it made them groove, and they still got the message.
Ian Webster’s, aka I-Web passage into the semis was equally clear-cut. For many in the audience who voiced their opinions, there were two contests. There was the actual one for the judges and then there was the one unavoidably imagined between Edwin and I-Web for pure vocal dominance. I-Web’s rendition of For The Souls was equally emotive and similarly heart-wrenching where he looked at the pain and suffering of those affected on both sides of road fatalities. His Salesman remained true to the best traditions of calypso with adroit lyrics that avoided being verbose, wittiness, relevance, freshness, and completed by excellent rendition. “Votes selling,” he sang, the open secret practised by most politicians and denied by all.
And for those politicians looking to curry favour “by rubbing shouders”, I-Web was emphatic, “Don’t rub my shoulders, grease my hands.” He was excellent.
Slocombe oozes talent and if he is accused of being cocky at times, so what! He has a right to be cocky. He has the talent to back it up. J-Slo has been scandalously omitted from the semifinals before. And on Saturday night he was again in good voice. Damn, he was in good everything with Voice Of The Voiceless and Can’t Finish It! Hopefully, talent and material are rewarded this year.
Mr Blood, too, booked his semi-final place with Memo and Attacks. His strength is in rendition and he would make Bla Bla Black Sheep sound exciting. While Memo has been gaining much play over the airwaves, it is Attack which appears his stronger suit. With the obvious pun on , to be taken also as “a tax”, the artiste looked at a number of areas in the country that were now being subjected to attacks/a tax. The song was well constructed and delivered with his usual aplomb. A semi-finalist indeed!
TC did her chances of advancing to the semi-finals no harm. She nailed every category in Stand Up and was especially pleasing in rendition. While the lyrics might not have brought any new perspectives, her cry for Barbadians to stand up and remain relevant at every level, resonated because of the reality of the present economic times. Her second selection Paradise was her tour de force. It was social commentary at its pulsating best, conjuring up images of the island that she calls home. Heady stuff this was.
Classic’s If Yuh Don’t Know and especially Divorce carried excellent melodies. He was strong on the night without being overwhelming but it would take some sensational performances over the next few days from other calypsonians for the 2015 monarch not to be among the chosen 18 come Thursday night or early Friday morning.
Chrystal delivered Claim Barbados Back and Too Big Fuh De Horse and as usual was the consummate professional in her delivery. Pleasingly, there was an injection of humour in the latter song, a lyrical ingredient not always present in her work. However, she too should make the semi-final cut.
AC was okay in the first-half with a song entitled My Opinion which was well rendered and benefited from his high class vocals. But the look of consternation on the faces of some with the lyrics of More Love was noticeable. Whether the judges were similarly bemused, is left to be seen. In the latter song, he sang words to the effect, “You travel to foreign land, to kill your brother man, but still you’re not happy”. But why would you be happy, many eyes seemed to ask? That there were moments of puzzle seemed more to be a reflection on the writer than on the singer and listener.
Both Adonijah and Mikey acquitted themselves well but whether their material had the requisite oomph to get them over the line is left to be seen. But on a different night, in different company, their contributions would have stood out.
But it was not all about competition; it was also party time. And what a party! It is true that some party was provided in the competition but Biggie Irie and Marvay added to the occasion and the climax came in the form of Red Plastic Bag who rocked Sea Rocks Dome as though it was indeed a boat ride.
Emcee for the night was Mac Fingal and the backing band was simply fabulous.