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Missing that oomph

good performances from house of soca, but there’s room for improvement

by Shawn Cumberbatch

There were good performances on a generally entertaining opening night. What was missing, however, was that extra oomph the House of Soca has been become known for when at its best — and certainly has displayed over the past few years. For me, that sums up this popular calypso tent’s Crop-Over 2013 debut at its now familiar home base in the Queen’s College school hall.

Familiar themes, several of them of a nation-building nature but which could have used some new angles, dominated the show, which featured some returning faces.

Those giving two solid performances on the night, albeit with material that did not wow, included Sir Ruel, Popsicle, Kid Site, Dre, Speedmaster, Jimmy Dan, Franswaa and Shaki-K.

As usual Sir Ruel represented calypso’s young brigade well in his renditions of Sir and Wha Dum Want, the latter an up-tempo number which showed another side of the former Junior Monarch — wukkups and all — ridiculing those making life difficult for youth like him singing “real” calypso while eagerly embracing the bumper, drinks, jump up party music.

Sir was his tribute to the numerous individuals who had received official knighthoods, including National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers, and others with the unofficial title, including Sir Don.

Popsicle, who won the Pic-O-De-Crop title in 2011, performed Entrepreneur and Crime Stoppers, in his inimitable way extolling the virtues of being your own boss in the first instance, while bemoaning the criminal element in the next. Both compositions have the potential to carry him further competition wise, but could be improved.

With Kid Site it was a case of “sounds familiar”, but as is normally the case, the four-time calypso king commanded the stage and rendered A Better Tomorrow, and Doan Worry Bout It well.

Dre, another performer who is no stranger to the calypso stage, was in good voice while delivering his Mr. Humility and Malicious Beatrice. The latter song was self explanatory, that nosy neighbour who knows everything and is not bashful about sharing it, but in the first contribution there was something contradictory about someone boasting about how humble they are.

In the case of Speedmaster (God Is A Bajan and War), Jimmy Dan (Allegiance and The Sound of Pan), Shaki-K (Rita Bring Back De Crown and No Man In De House), and Franswaa (Bajan and The Promise) the topics were “been there, done that” in nature.

This trio did the best with what they had, however, and certainly dressed to suit. While most of those on the night sang two songs, there were some who had lone offerings that were in some instances more memorable that those with a couple.

Case in point was veteran Malik, who delivered Mary, his ditty about the union leader dressed in red, and Gallon, whose message about cancer in the song The Big C was well rendered and received, a contribution certainly of more substance than his second song Wuk Yuh Body. Lil Az, always a natural on stage, also sang once, performing Guardians Of Calypso, her argument for youngsters like her to get their due in the art form.

On a night when performer Mr. Vilan turned MC Vilmore Johnson he had a challenging debut, including from more than one audience member wondering why the National Anthem was not played before the tent official got underway. Some singers also appeared out of sync with the backing band and vice-versa.

Other than that the musical accompaniment was of a high standard as the youthful group of musicians backed up 32 songs. Additional performers on opening night including the charismatic Sharky (Potential and If De BLP), Adrenalin (My Bajan Dream and Living In The Shadow Of Evil), Emran (The Rock and Wake Me Up), GQ (Abuse and The Tunnel), Delight (But! Uh Dancing and The Next Side Of Me), Callie (Wuk Up De Bumpa), and Mole (Ruff Ta All).

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