UNLIKE the chaos which erupted last year when police and patrons clashed at the National Panorama semi-finals at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain, yesterday's event only saw the clashing of sticks and rubber against steel in a bid to claim the $1 million top prize at the finals on February 9.
A total of 31 bands crossed the big stage in front of the judges, with patrons in the packed North Stand partying away while those in the Grand Stand appeared to be listening intently.
And on the North Greens, the atmosphere was one of calm with several well-coordinated posses staking a claim to various spots.
This time, however, in an attempt to eliminate any possibility of a recurrence of last year's violent confrontation in which pan fans were beaten by police batons and fists when they tried to access the North Greens from the North Stand, a separate entrance and exit was created for each area.
The event started at around 12.15 p.m. with Arima Angel Harps, the first of 14 medium conventional steelbands, playing Shelton Besson's arrangement of De Fosto's "We Come Out To Play".
They were followed by Sangre Grande Cordettes (champions), Pan Elders (We Come Out To Play), Steel Xplosion (Tell Dem), Power Stars (Shock Attack), Courts Sound Specialists of Laventille (Long Time) and Carib Dixieland (Shock Attack).
Defending champions Petrotrin Katzenjammers appeared in eighth position playing the Len "Boogsie" Sharp arrangement of "Keshorn — Javelin Champion", sung by Eunice Peters.
NGC Couva Joylanders delivered a riveting performance of "Band From Space", sung by Edwin "Crazy" Ayoung and arranged by Kenneth "Panam" Clarke.
Bringing up the rear were Curepe Scherzando (We Come Out To Play), Pamberi (Wettin), Melodians (My Band) and NLCB Buccooneers (Gold).
Valley Harps, the final band in the Medium category, completed their rendition of "More Love" at 5 p.m.
In the Medium category, ten bands will move forward to compete for the $600,000 first prize.
By the time Humming Bird Pan Groove (Haunting Melody), the first band in the Large Conventional Steelbands category, appeared on stage, the crowd in the North Stand had grown significantly.
Reigning champions Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars are attempting to retain their title with a rendition of "Bounce and Drive", arranged by Leon "Smooth Edwards" and sung by Dexter "Blaxx" Stewart.