Saturday, February 17, 2018

Dimanche, but no Gras

The National Carnival Commission and Carnival Special Interest Groups will after the festival have to sit down and revisit the new format of Dimanche Gras. What was presented at the Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain on Sunday just did not cut it.

The official programme started at 9.22 p.m., an hour and a half later than scheduled and for some time the patrons were left confused over whether or not the actual production had begun or the pre-show still in progression. No explanation was ever offered as to why the show began late and as the night progressed people were often left wondering exactly what was taking place on the stage before them.

This was the first time that all elements of competition were removed from Dimanche Gras, which was this year a show produced by Unlimited Events on behalf of the National Carnival Commission and the Carnival Special Interest Groups. These organisations promised a spectacular event never before experienced.

This was not delivered, as much of the production was not any different from shows one could have seen at any one of many Carnival events throughout the season. The attendance, however, was unlike previous years as the Grand Stand was half empty and the North Stand was not even used because the performances all faced the Grand Stand.

One should here note that the majority of performances by the steel orchestras, calypsonians and soca artistes were quite good. It was the other elements such as the costumed dancers and overuse of smoke and strange structures on stage that left people baffled and wondering just what was the storyline of the production themed, "I Am Carnival". This was supposed to tell the story of Carnival in modules exploring mas, calypso and the steelpan.

The parade of mas characters that punctuated the modules were for the most part of no particular order and really did not say anything. Some people in the audience summed it up saying they could have enjoyed that same disorder and cacophony of noises free of charge on the streets of Port of Spain free of charge from Jouvert all the way through to Tuesday night. There were, however, performances that did please the audience earning from them loud applause.

One such noteworthy performance was that of reigning joint International Power Soca Monarch, SuperBlue who really delivered a fantastic performance. He opened with, "Soca Baptist" following that with, "Ethel" and ending off with his runaway comeback hit, "Fantastic Friday". Looking around the stage for speaker boxes to climb upon and seeing none, SupeBlue then seemed to signal his intention to take the Road March honours.

"Ah looking for speaker boxes to climb, but they move all the boxes. Doh worry, we have Monday and Tuesday. Thank you. I love you," SuperBlue said as he exited the stage to cheers from the audience, most of whom were calling for more from him.

Another great performance was the pan shootout between, Dane Gulston of the Trinidad All Stars Steel Orchestra and Johann Chuckaree of reigning National Panorama Champions, Phase II Pan Groove. Playing "Pan In A Minor" by Kitchener on their respective tenor pans the two ramajayed and challenged each other to execute lightning fast runs and chord progressions, exciting the audience some of whom stood up applauding at the end of the performance.

Other excellent performances on the night were presented by Exodus and Despers who performed their 2013 Panorama selections, "Gold" and "Hammer Time" respectively. There was also the Fusions Steel Orchestra, which combined pan with vocals and thrilled the audience with a medley that featured among songs, "Differentology," "Fog," "Wetting" and "Fireman."

David Rudder had people singing along to, "Calypso Music" and also "Live Yuh Life," during which he left the stage and walked into the Grand Stand much to the delight of the audience. Fay-Ann Lyons emerged from a volcano in the midst of dancers jumping around on the stage and she sang, "D Stage Open," managing to get the women out of their seats and dancing. Other well received performers included Stalin, Shadow and Lord Nelson.