Headliners impress at opening
Colin Spencer supports the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), and he has as no apology to make to anybody.
At last Saturday’s opening night of the Headliners Calypso Tent at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, the former DLP general election candidate sizzled in It Aint Only Me, a selection that not only reinforced his political leanings, but suggested that political partisanship in Barbados was the norm. To emphasize his point in the song delivered in slow, traditional kaiso style, the National Stadium manager identified –– by their positions and appointments –– several others who had benefited from their association with the two major political parties in Barbados.
The song has benefited from an excellent arrangement.
Spencer also offered Let’s Go, a number with a lovely melody –– almost a spouge hybrid –– that left many in the audience questioning whether it was calypso. No one could question its infectiousness, though.
Ian Webster tried to answer some of the questions about the genre in What Is Calypso. It is an interesting selection with a somewhat disjointed melody that seemed a deliberate departure, for the sake of experimentation. Indeed, as some of the lyrics suggested, “music is so pragmatic, so just go with the flow” and “music is dynamic”.
Very true; but everything still has form and a base, and calypso cannot move so diametrically from form to the extent that it sounds like Little Richards’ Tutti Frutti. The song possessed some interesting lyrics, but not all supported the intended message. Can he retain the crown with it among his offerings? Hardly! He later closed off the night with All Inclusive, a delightfully melodic selection.
Smokey Burke is his usual witty self in No Republic, which looks in a humorous way at the latest verbal excursion about Barbados becoming a republic or retaining its monarchial system. If Burke is to be believed, though, Barbados already has its own homegrown monarch in Freundel I.
Though he made no direct connection between Queen Elizabeth II and Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, the former’s traditional silence on political matters or her status above day-to-day British politics, was not lost on the audience. As usual, it is a clever piece of writing.
Smokey’s other selection was Confrontation, which examined societal conflicts that ended in victories for no one.
Bumba impressed with Bias, but was rather ineffective with We Thank You All. The latter sought to offer thanks to all and sundry for an assortment of good deeds, but just seemed to be a song that has been delivered by 20 others, over the last 20 years in 20 different tents.
Ishiaka McNeil had a good night with his Caricom Dream, while Blood’s Right Here Where I Stand went over well with the appreciative audience. He was also in a mood to show appreciation with his Giving Thanks. Though his vocals and delivery were first-rate, as usual, that the song was directed to praising the Creator was not enough to recommend it as a competition song.
Crystal Cummins-Beckles is a class act, and showed every ounce of this in Wake Me Up and the party number Carnival Baby. In Wake Me Up she begged to be aroused from what in essence was a nightmare where crime in Barbados was now a family affair. She sang that communities no longer raised children because their parents weren’t speaking to each other.
Michael Knight momentarily stepped from behind his drum machine to deliver a party number entitled I Don’t Know and did justice to the song. Faith Callender’s exhortation to her other half not to leave her at home but to Take Me Out was another melodic party selection performed.
Quon delivered African Connection and could feel pleased with his time on stage.
Also making the night quite enjoyable were Summa with Moment For Life, as well as her father D.2.5 with Addicted.
Burke doubled as emcee and did an admirable job, while the Headliners Band played fabulously all night.