A royal rumble in the Jungle Jam caused a great uproar at De First Citizens Big Show last Saturday evening.
In what was the final tent night ahead of judging, Adrian AC Clarke wove an intricate tale of Anansi and the Big Bad Ram to an audience that was eagerly anticipating his telling of the tale. Indeed, those gathered at the Sea Rocks Dome in Maxwell, Christ Church, erupted into applause even before emcee Jabari Browne could call the calypsonian’s name.
With an ever calm and cool stage presence, AC recounted the bacchanal to rapt attention, garnering him an inevitable encore call. Although the veteran performer claimed to have no extempo verse prepared, he spun a quick picong to the delight of an already entangled crowd. By the end of his rendition of Anansi and the Big Bad Ram, the dome erupted with the chants of “spin ya web”!
It may have been no coincidence that Ian iWEB Webster was next to the stage. He too had attendees caught up, this time by exposing the inner workings of the Brain. Bursting onto the stage donning a white lab coat, the three-time calypso monarch seemed unfazed by the song that preceded his performance. Although a few lines in Brain may have been said to cause controversial actions, the song in its entirety is a well-written, classic calypso, powered by an expert arrangement from the minds of Roger Gittens and De Red Boyz.
Classic’s I Don’t Give Ah may do well for him in front of the judges. The song dismissed the trivialities of the day that the two-time Pic-O’-De-Crop winner was asked to address in his music and instead brought attention to what he believed were the “bigger concerns” in Barbados.
Jamal Slocombe’s Singing Party was another highlight of the night. Lamenting the state of contemporary calypso commentary, he wasn’t afraid to call out some seasoned entertainers for their silence on issues facing the country. Slocombe will be one to watch for, in the final showdown.
The Rescue also brought attention to the current state of social commentary. Performed by Chrystal Cummins Beckles-Holder, the song detailed the demise of the artform. She however, promised “a rescue”. Beckles-Holder was one of four women who graced the stage on Saturday evening. Natahlee sang Not For Sale in the first half of the show. The tune, which has enjoyed good airplay, was also well received by the audience. Betty B marked her second year in De First Citizens Big Show with My Ancestors which was beautifully delivered by the talented singer.
However, the true beauty of a tent like De Big Show lies in the fact that it is an event for all lovers of calypso music. The biting commentary was soothed with sweet soca from Biggie Irie, who performed Send Somebody and other uptempo tracks like Don’t Sit Down (Pompey) and AC’s Enjoy Yourself. Mary E paused her background vocalist duties, stepping into the limelight for the So Nice in the second half of the show. There were also the more tongue-in-cheek takes on kaiso, which came from Serenader and his Teething, as well as Skung Yung who opened the show with It’s All About De Key.
The just-over three-hour show closed with Mr Dale’s De Best Fete Ever and Slocombe’s Bring It.
Church was even held a few hours early, when Slocombe led the Sea Rocks Dome in a moving rendition of Goodness of God. It was emcee Browne, brother of entertainer Nakita, who encouraged his former schoolmate to “sing anything” that would accord with Browne’s mother’s love for Jesus.
After being called to the stage, the couple gave some insight into the origin of their children’s musical skills with a sweet duet of The Rose. There is no doubt that they left Maxwell beaming with pride for their son, who was an excellent host for the evening, punctuating the proceedings with jokes, singing and giveaways.
Last Saturday’s show also paid tribute to team member Jennifer Weekes, who had passed earlier that day.