After COVID-19, reggae lovers have been left craving a good dose of their favourite music. They had their musical thirst quenched when the Barbados Reggae Festival made its grand return with the highly anticipated Vintage Reggae Show and Dance. This production is always well-attended, and this year was no different, as many patrons gathered for the kickoff of the first event which featured premier acts in the genre.
Veteran Mike Grosvenor was in fine voice singing with Let Me Be Your Friend and he was followed by the equally dynamic Wendy Alleyne. Within her set, she paid tribute to the late Trinidadian calypsonian, Singing Francine with Run Away and her close friend Carlyn Leacock with Hello There Baby.
Her phenomenal performance included fan favorites like Have a Thing About You, Midnight Blue and Can’t Control My Emotions. Alleyne was followed by Vintage regulars, the Fab Five. With 53 years in the business, the band undoubtedly can still deliver quality music. The band backed Flourgon, who was energetic from the time he burst onto the stage. The artiste quickly ran through a slew of his hit songs and added some covers.
Next in the line-up was the band Third World, who were impressive with their presentation. Among the popular tracks they performed were Now That We Found Love, Try Jah Love and 96 Degrees in the Shade. Former group member Biggie Irie joined the band with his rendition of Always Around. While their segment included the expected top hits, the lead singer surprised the audience with the fantastic rendition of Andrea Bocelli’s Time to Say Goodbye with accompaniment on a cello. Also included in their session was Redemption Song.
The final performer of the night was Maxi Priest, who performed an hour-long set. As usual, the vocals during his live performance rivalled those on his records. However, during his set, which started at 2 a.m., patrons started to leave the venue. It was uncertain if they were tired from the six-hour-long show, or whether it was done in support of local entertainer Rickey ‘Lil Rick’ Reid. The night, predominantly categorised by sweet music, was marred by an incident between him and a member of Maxi Priest’s team.
As a staple of the show, the popular deejay’s set is typically one of the highly expected headline acts. With Daddy Fabian preceding Rick, the expectation was high as the well-loved entertainer emerged. However, while the audience could hear his voice, there was a technical difficulty with the music. Throughout this period, the stage was cloaked in darkness. Patrons waited patiently to have the problems rectified, but to no avail. This was followed by Lil Rick proclaiming that he had been unceremoniously asked to leave the stage, which met with the disapproval of the crowd, who soon started to chant, “Bring back Lil Rick, we want Lil Rick.” Those calls went unanswered, and the visibly upset Lil Rick was observed speaking to the stakeholders of the show backstage. There were murmurs in the crowd about how the popular entertainer was treated.
The show was worthy of rave reviews. However, with this occurrence, some took to social media to vent their frustration on the issue. On the Facebook platform, Keisha Russell Greaves said, “The show was really good. However, Barbados Reggae Festival promoters owe Lil Rick an apology for the appalling behavior displayed by Maxi Priest’s stage handler. What was even more disappointing is that the show continued without any mention of Lil Rick and his forced departure from the stage. As one of our most iconic entertainers, the treatment meted out to him on home soil was atrocious and left a sour taste in the mouths of spectators! We cannot sit idly by and allow foreign entities to disrespect our own. Maxi Priest was amazing. However, the disrespect shown to Lil Rick took away from what would have been a great climax to a well put-together show.” (STT)