The new Dimanche Gras format didn’t go on without hitches.
The pre-recorded music proved to be a challenge for a number of the artistes, some of whom couldn’t keep up with the pace of the original songs while others could not hit some of the high notes.
Most glaring was during Rikki Jai’s performance - music played without him singing a note until D’All Starz was able to back him up for a live performance.
But there were indeed some high points.
The opening of the $2 million show was fabulous.
Produced by multiple award-winning producer and artistic director, Davlin Thomas, Dimanche Gras, themed Buccoo Reef - The beauty beneath the surface, began half-an-hour later than the advertised start time, but once it got started, it flowed.
In keeping with the theme of the show, the stage was decorated with sails, masts, corals, flowers and reefs, while masqueraders wore costumes depicting other sea creatures like jelly fish.
Danielle Williams, looking regal in a white gown and positioned centre-stage in a celestial-like setting, delivered perhaps one of the best renditions of our national anthem.
The show portrayed the underwater world and highlight the beauty of the cultural aspects of TT.
However, while mas and soca were indeed highlighted, with the exception of bass pans from Desperadoes Steel Orchestra forming part of the stage props, and a solo pan performance by Len “Boogsie” Sharpe who played Pan By Storm, in tribute to the late Ken “Professor” Philmore, pan in its glory was sadly lacking.
The grand dame of jazz, Mavis John, backed by the Eastern Chorale Choir, sang the Portrait of Trinidad with East Indian and African dancers merging their talent for this number.
John also sang Back Home, from the late Andre Tanker, as more costumes depicting other aspects of the Buccoo Reef joined the dancers and filled the stage.
The masqueraders moved their costumes to the sounds of waves crashing on the shore, creating an oceanic atmosphere. But, following a little ‘thunder’ and lightning, soca artiste Destra Garcia took the stage to sing Bonnie and Clyde, while two Carnival queens Savitri Holassie and Roixanne Omalo, portraying Night of the Chameleon Queen and Solar Goddess of the Sky respectively, appeared on stage simultaneously.
Destra was then joined by Machel Montano, and together they sang It’s Carnival amid a light show in front the stage and pyrotechnics in the background.
The two soca stars had the foreigners in the crowd waving their hands and then got them to take the first of several jump-ups during the show.
Montano then asked Destra to stay on stage with him to sing Famalay, but she left. Nevertheless, the crowd enjoyed his performance and the entire first segment on the whole.
The performances of Nadia Batson and Farmer Nappy thrilled the crowd the most.
When Batson was announced to perform, the crowd gave her a loud ovation as she immediately went into So Long, her monster hit for the season.
She had some patrons getting up and dancing, with hands in the air. But when it was over, there were chants of ‘Nadia! Nadia!’ and she returned to the stage much to their delight.
The same hyped energy remained when Farmer Nappy was introduced. He did Big People Party, sharing the stage with one of the dancers and a few junior queens and kings. He then went into his extremely popular Hookin Meh and got some the crowd on their feet again, and singing along vociferously. For a second time the crowd called for an encore. He did it a cappella style and had them singing with him.
Earlier, the Signal Hill Alumni choir, out of Tobago, performed songs of artistes who have recently passed away like Doh Beat Mama Popo (Brigo), Child Training (Composer), You Haven’t Seen Carnival (Superior), Stranger (Shadow) and Pan By Storm (Ken “Professor” Philmore),
Young King and National Calypso Monarch Renaldo London followed with Man’s Imagination, after which veteran entertainer Ronnie McIntosh, dressed in this trademark trench coat, did How It go Look, and after shedding his coat, Ent. He had the dancers doing his special dance for that song then led them off the stage at the end of his performance.
Patrice Roberts followed with Ah Like It Hot, Need It, Into You and Big Girl Now, Old and Grey, This is the Place to Go and Sweet For Days, while the reef dancers did their thing in the background.
Shurwayne Winchester then came on and did his back to back Road Marches Look De Band Coming and Dead or Alive, and got into the stand to give patrons instructions to jump and wave. They obeyed. Back on stage, dancers circled him before he led them off at the end of his performance.
Accompanied by chutney dancers, chutney singer Drupatee Ramgoonai was next with Wuk Up D Larki and Bissessar, to appreciative applause from the crowd.
Calypso Queen of the World Calypso Rose was then brought on stage to a rousing welcome.
She sang Tempo, first first Road March in 1977, then called on TT to keep the culture alive and give musicians and artistes what they want, as it will give them the power to fly the country’s flag higher, internationally.
She continued with Fire Fire with pyrotechnics going off front stage.
Later in the show, young artiste Nailah Blackman did Iron Love and Oh Lawd Oye, before reigning Chutney Soca kings Neval Chaitlal and Nishard Mayrhoo sang their winning song Fyah. They were well received.
Newly-crowned Power Soca Monarch Mr. Killer was also invited to perform his Run With It. And after saying thanks to the fans and friends who supported him on his way to the crown, he was warmly applauded.
When Rikki Jai was announced to perform Sumintra, the song went on to play, with dancers doing their thing on stage but there was no Rikki Jai, even though he was present. The audience soon forgot about it after North West Laventille Limbo Dancers got into their limbo act. The foreigners in the crowd enjoyed the display.
MX Prime followed with Heat and an appearance by Ted Eustace and his What Lurks in the Night costume, during the song. The soca bard continued with Full Extreme, after which Rikki Jai eventually came on to sing Leh We Fete with the live backing of D’All Starz. He too got waves from the crowd.
Frontline singer with the band, Dexter “Blaxx” Stewart naturally followed with Hulk, while Carnival King Joseph Lewis, portraying Ghelgath - The Demon Lord of Ice came on stage to fireworks in the background.
Blaxx went on to sing a few of his other hits as patrons, on their feet again, enjoyed the live performance. The stage quickly filled with dancers and confetti for the finale as Blaxx did Leh Go before finishing with Gyal Owner. The women in the crowd were only too eager to sing along with him, which he didn’t mind as he was struggled to find his notes.