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2008 Int’l Soca Monarch Reviews

February 3, 2008
bunjiewin.jpgShock, anger and distress were the emotions expressed, especially by the thousands of women in the audience, when it was announced that Faye-Ann Lyons had placed third at Friday’s final of the International Power Soca Monarch competition at the Queen’s Park Oval, Port of Spain.

The fury escalated when the MC revealed that Iwer George had beaten Lyons, placing second in the standings; but upon the announcement that Bunji Garlin had regained the coveted title, cheers erupted throughout the venue.

Performing his cover version of the late Maestro’s classic “Fiery”, Garlin worked the crowd of over 10,000 into a frenzy with his lyrical wizardry that was juxtaposed with pyrotechnics, acrobatics and other dramatic props. As the Asylum Band prepared to accompany Garlin, a gutted vehicle was hoisted over the audience at the left flank of the stage, leaving people to wonder if the car would be lit afire during Garlin’s performance.

A person wearing white was then seen rapelling from the car just seconds before the stage was lit and the crowd saw a silver cocoon in the centre. From within this came Garlin with silver wings, symbolic of the rebirth of the spirit of Maestro manifested as Garlin. One of the major highlights of Garlin’s presentation was a giant replica of the front page of the now defunct Express evening paper, The Sun, which reported on Maestro’s accidental death.

Garlin then invited Maestro’s cousin, a DJ known as Scientist, and nephew, Christian, to join him on stage, much to the delight of the audience. Garlin turned to the photograph of Maestro on the article and chanted, thanking Maestro for paving the way for artistes such as himself and promising the legendary artiste that he would carry on the calypso/soca legacy with honour, dignity and pride.

This sent the crowd into an even higher level of lunacy, as they screamed while jumping up and down and even crashing into each other. Garlin was then hoisted via a winch above the stage, from which he completed the remaining verses of the song before descending and finally exiting the stage to the sound of people shouting, “Bunji, Bunji, Bunji!” for several minutes as the DJ began to play several of Garlin’s hits through the years in quick succession.

His wife, Faye-Ann Lyons, received a very warm welcome as she entered the stage in a lit-up “big music truck” that was, in fact, cut out from board and adorned with tube lights. With a troupe of dancers and her sister, Terri, singing alongside her, Lyons had the audience at her beck and call as she commanded them to “wave and hold it” in her song “Get On”. Lyons then told the audience that she had two friends to bring out to them and from the side of the stage came Peter Minshall’s immortal mas characters, Tan Tan and Saga Boy.

Lyons told the audience that she had been hearing people saying that the battle for the Soca Monarch title was between Bunji, Iwer George and Blaxx, at which she took offence, declaring, instead, that this year would see the first female Soca Monarch being crowned. She then did a freestyle verse, telling Garlin that although she loved him dearly and greatly admired his talents, she was going to put a severe cut-tail on him. The crowd reacted to this with raised hands and screams.

Lyons said, “Bunji is the Fireman and Iwer is the Boss. I am the Silver Surfer,” and she put on a silver headpiece while heading for the barrier separating the stage from the crowd. A huge silver surfboard materialised and Lyons climbed onto it, surfing over the audience while singing. She went as far as midway into the audience before the board was turned towards the left of the stage, Lyons singing her way out as as the people waved while shouting, “Get on, get on.”

As the band struck up the music for Iwer George’s hit single, “Over Your Head”, the people began to look for him on stage. They were then instructed by hype man, Super Jigga, to look over their heads, where George was stationed in a cherry picker moving above them. Iwer’s two sons sang from the stage while , from the basket of the hydraulic lift, he instructed the audience to wave. George, eventually, was deposited on the stage. After hyping the crowd from the stage for several minutes, George returned to the cherry picker and as he moved over the crowd, Iwer threw bottles of water for them.

The patrons were chanting, “Breathless, breathless, breathless” even before the music for “Breathless” by Blaxx was struck up by the Roy Cape All Stars. A winged moko jumbie appeared on stage encouraging the people to keep chanting. When Blaxx failed to show up after a while, the crowd began to get tired and some people shouted, “Just start the song, nah.” Blaxx then came from under the moko jumbie’s wings, but things began to fall apart for him as his vocals were garbled and he actually seemed breathless.

Blaxx went into the crowd on a board bearing him and a man carrying a large Spanglers flag. He went to a platform in the middle of the crowd, from which he continued to dig a deeper and deeper hole for himself while constantly calling on the patrons to declare him the Soca Monarch. There was then a long lapse where only the music played without any vocals from him until he reappeared on stage to end his presentation. A few people standing near the stage continued to chant, “Breathless,” for some time before the DJ began to play.

Article & Photo: www.trinidadexpress.com

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