real unity: Reigning double Soca Monarch Machel Montano, right, performs with soca artiste Destra Garcia during Machel Monday, at the National Stadium, Port of Spain, on Monday night. —Photo: CURTIS CHASE

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Destra steals show at star-studded Machel Monday

By Nigel Telesford

EPIC! 

That’s surely the most appropriate word to describe the ama­zing night of entertainment pro­­duced by reigning double and joint Soca Monarch Machel Montano, for a massive crowd gathered at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain for “Machel Monday 2014”.

Since his adolescence, Montano embarked on a mission to combine various musical genres and cultures together, but on this night, he upped the ante and brought gen­e­rations, nations and worlds together on stage, for what may have been his greatest concert production ever. 

Attracting a 20,000-plus crowd and lasting almost five hours, the multimedia showcase featured entertainers from around the globe, including R&B legends Boys II Men from the US, Timaya from Nigeria and Bollywood star Maha­lakshmi Iyer. 

Five champions from The Free Speech Project punctua­ted the musical segments with powerful spoken-word pieces on themes such as “Unity” by Keegan Maraj and the pore-raising “Madiba” by Romero Gowrie. 

All the supporting acts delivered impressive contributions: from the cheeky Akeem “Preedy” Chance to the thunderous voices of Devon “Lyrikal” Martin and Gamal “Skin­­ny Fabulous” Doyle and lustrous harmonies of Boys II Men. 

Major Lazer rocked the stadium and sent Montano and Diplo into the crowd inside a ball for a roll around while Kerwin Du Bois’ songs echoed throughout the stadium from the united voices of the masses. 

Du Bois was poised and execu­ted well, making good use of the massive stage, its wings and even the scaffolding to the front. 

The popular singer, songwriter and producer seems ready and eager to claim the Groovy Soca monarch, but that race looks to be hard-fought, with contenders like Daryl “Farmer Nappy” Henry.

Nappy’s latest hit, “Big People Party”, received a resounding welcome and has been a favourite throughout the fete circuit. 

On this night, it served as the catalyst for a legendary segment of the programme, which included appearances from “Poser” (Sylves­ter Lockhart), Johnny King and Denyse Plummer. 

Also appearing on the night was calypso legend David Rudder, as well as pan virtuosos Len “Boog­sie” Sharpe and Andy Narrell, all joining for Montano’s brilliant collaboration with Rudder on “Oil and Music”.

Montano was in rare form as he took the massive audience on a musical journey through space and time while also introducing, cueing, thanking, celebrating and appreciating the many guest acts. 

He also said he was free, single and “disengaged”, a seeming reference to his former engagement, but he gave no details.

Expressing love and appreciation to each guest act, Montano saved the best for last when he brought out soca queen Destra Gar­cia near the end of the show. 

It’s rumoured the two artistes have been at odds for some time and have not performed on the same stage together for several years since their hit collaboration, “It’s Carnival”, was released in 2003. 

However, in April last year, it was reported the pair did perform on a truck together during Jamaica’s carnival celebration....pre-empting the touching reunion at Machel Monday. 

“This show is about peace, love and unity,” said Montano after embracing Garcia onstage. 

“It’s also about friendship, trust and forgiveness,” added Garcia. 

During their performance, a screen onstage showed the crowns for a king and a queen.

Montano seems to have finally perfected his magical formula for Machel Monday, but with his two Soca Monarch titles up for grabs on “Fantastic Friday”, we can assume the best of “Double M” is yet to come.

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