A crowd estimated at over 30 000 strong descended on the lawns of the National Botanical Gardens on Sunday for the Republic Bank’s Pandemonium which is being hailed by the National Cultural Foundation as a major success.
This year, bringing an amazing groove to the event with pure pan fusion was the Barbados National Youth Steel Orchestra which opened the night ably led by musical director Lowrey Worrell. The island’s largest steel orchestra with players from nine to almost 30 years old, had the crowd captivated from the first ping of the pans to the last beat of the drums.
The highly-professional pan ensemble brought the vibes to Waterford just after 8:30 p.m. opening their set with Rastaman, then venturing into a medley of the biggest 2023 Crop Over songs including Reflection by Coopa Dan, I Am A Bajan and Jump by Rupee, Brainfreeze by Leadpipe and Jus Jay amongst many others.
Gracing the stage as one of the first headline acts was Cultural Ambassador Red Plastic Bag who slowed the pace down a bit with his hits such as Spontaneous, Once Upon A Whine, If Ah Sweet Ah Sweet, and the crowd sang along with every word under the direction of Worrell. Tribute was also paid to mega star and National Hero, Her Excellency Robyn Rihanna Fenty with the inclusion of some of her biggest hits like Rude Boy and Diamonds.
Edwin Yearwood pumped life into the crowd with his renditions of 90’s soca including Pump Me Up and Sak Passe joined by a hyped Mr Blood whose appearance was appreciated by a rocking crowd.
Sweet Soca maestro Biggie Irie brought back sweet memories with his performance of the Splashband’s Get Busy and other hits. By this time, the crowd was in full jam mode making way for Alan Shepherd’s set which included many of his popular hits including In De Congaline.
Closing out the evening was soca sensation Lil Rick who delivered some of his biggest tunes including Blessing, Like Muhself, and I’z Ah Bajan.
Another favourite gracing the stage was the visiting award-winning group the Republic Bank Exodus who came, saw, delivered and conquered, leaving the crowd wanting more.
In the earlier part of the evening, those who arrived on trailers included the Republic Bank Steelband which played a medley of the biggest local hits. The group is made up of 21 staff volunteers from across the bank’s network, comprising managerial and non-managerial staff and led by Worrell.
Bringing more vibes to the event was the St Leonard’s Steel Orchestra which showed off superbly-played mixes including Maroon 5’s Memories and Rihanna’s Lift Me Up from Wakanda Forever.
Also making an appearance on the big trailer trucks was the Barbados Community College ensemble led by Adrian Forde. They kept the crowd rocking with popular hits including Fast Star by Richard Stoute and Wendy Alleyne’s Thing About You, Stand By Love featuring Alleyne and the Dynamics.
Spotted in the VIP section were diplomats from the Embassy of China, former President of the Democratic Labour Party Verla De Peiza, NCF Chairman Dr. Jasmine Babb, her husband, news manager with the Starcom Network, Stetson Babb; Director of the National Library Service Jennifer Yarde and Deputy Director of the NCF Sheldon Hope.
Other pan groups making an appearance were Zige and Blac Peppa, Tenor Pan Jam, Euphony Steel, Phoenix Steel, NCF Iron Massive, and the Cave Hill Blackbird Steel.
The NCF’s Corporate Communications Specialist Toni Yarde said that the event was a major success this year:
“We at the National Cultural Foundation are extremely pleased with the production execution and of course, the patronage of the thousands who came to national gardens for the Republic Bank Pandemonium. This year’s edition was another resounding success coming off of last year when we first conceptualized the idea of the event here,” she told Barbados TODAY.