ON THE same day that one king was beginning his reign, another gave what he said was his final major performance on stage, before a standing-room-only audience of adoring, loyal subjects at Sound Forge in Mucurapo.
It was a case of chalk and cheese, the coronation Saturday morning of King Charles III in far off England and the final major stage performance, later in the evening, of "King" David Michael Rudder in west Trinidad.
For while the former was replete with polite pomp and ceremony befitting of "m'lud and milady," the latter was an affair filled with laughter, movement, gyrating of hips, waving of arms, spontaneous singing, jumping, joy and some tears, as Rudder showed off the style that has earned him his royal title.
He may have turned 70 on the day, but Rudder kept his audience enthralled for almost five hours during his Rudder 7.0 concert, on Saturday.
At one point, the standing-room-only crowd sang him Happy Birthday led by fellow calypso veteran Carl Jacobs.
There was electric energy in the crowd where VIPs rubbed shoulders with common folk at Sound Forge to give Rudder their love and undivided attention.
One audience member was overheard saying, “I don’t know how to stay sitting down,” and while initially some seated people complained about others standing in front of them, they eventually got to their feet and stayed there.
Rudder belted out some of his classics including Rally Round the West Indies; De Long Time Band; Frontline; Engine Room; Belmont; Nuff Respect; The Ganges Meets The Nile; Adrenaline City; Jump Up; Club Hysteria; Dus’ In Dey Face; Guilty; A Madman’s Rant; and Madness, among others.
He had the crowd in a reflective mood when he switched to social commentary in the second half of the concert, singing Haiti, 1990, Jerusalem, The Immigrants, Adrenaline City, and a ditty about a magical land going out of control, before pulling them out with, The Ganges Meets The Nile, and continuing with the international theme with Cuba and Panama.
Rudder dedicated the songs Ministry of Rhythm and It Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This to his long-time drummer Barry Howard and musical director, writing partner and friend Wayne Bruno.
Guest artistes included Carl Jacobs, with whom Rudder sang Trini to the Bone after asking the audience to “stand up and wine to the national anthem of TT,” Vaughnette Bigford, who sang Ella Andall’s Caribbean Woman and with whom he sang, Song For A Lonely Soul; Roger George – Calypso Music; Kees Dieffenthaller – Live Yuh Life Like Yuh Playing Mas; Machel Montano – Oil and Music and Happiest Man Alive; Isaac “Yung Rudd” Rudder - Calypso Music; Mical Teja – Hall of Fame; Helon Francis – Mighty; and Destra Garcia – Hammer and Bacchanal Lady.
Each guest added a sparkle to the evening from the open reverence and love most showed to the man who had inspired most of them.
Special touches like Carl Jacobs being summoned to sing Trini to the Bone, veteran audio engineer Robin Foster being called to the stage to demonstrate a Belmont crawl, the screams when Montano entered the stage in darkness, seeing Yung Rudd performing with his dad and the affection between them, Rudder singing Bacchanal Lady about Garcia and daring her to put down a “bacchanal 20” wine, and Verna St Rose Greaves ringing a bell during Hammer all made the evening even more special for those who were there.
The audience joined in enthusiastically with Bahia Girl, singing the first two verses without any input with Rudder, as well as singing along strongly with Madness, A Madman’s Rant, and High Mas.
The final song of the concert was Spirits, which had many patrons almost frenziedly reacting to the chorus, “Ase. Namaste. Hallelujah. Dance!”
The band and backup singers brought an additional layer of excellence to the production, and those watching on the live stream were also satisfied with the quality of the audio and visuals. Rudder later made presentations to the concert’s co-chairs Dennis Ramdeen and Derwin Howell.