We were ready for an interesting trial at Quarter Finals Court. Armed with opinions and expectations, patrons staked out their individual locations in the courtroom and waited to be impressed, or God forbid, depressed. Any wrong move and the panel of judges could order your neck cut! What lay ahead was a shuffled deck of freshmen, graduates and veterans singing a mixed bag of emotive ballads, pedestrian advocations, desperate evocations and delightfuly derisive entertainment. We didn’t have long to wait. Bang on time the procession of defendants began–and what a beginning it was. Baliff Alex Bruno called us to order.
Vigilante took the stand with a simple but dynamic, engaging justification of why everything is Back to Front. He transformed what on surface seemed an ordinary, humdrum song, into one which had the audience swaying and singing along in no time. A good start. There was no doubt he would escape conviction into calypso jail. He was followed by the warhorses Third Eye, with What Would You Do and Man Himself’s Make Your Life a Prayer.
Unfortunately, both of these seasoned perfomers failed to connect with the audience. As appropriate as their messages were, the delivery was perhaps too average and predictable. One year impriosnment was the sentence handed down. They were not to see dalylight until this time next year. Another explanation for their demise could be that they were drowned out by the exceptional come-back performance of the Hunter. Quintessential Hunter of the late 1990′s rose to the fore with his Asphalt pun. He owned the stage, and earned his spot in the semis. On his heels came Boople singing Conscience Lost and Found. Athough just merely interesting, it was the performance which was impressive. Many had an asterix by his name, suggesting that with either outcome, the crowd could be satisfied. Sadly, the judges weren’t, sentencing.
It is only because we were all already standing that Black Diamond did not receive a standing ovation. Words such as brilliant and extraordinary come to mind in describing the freshman, Black Diamond. Crystal clear articulation, timing and ‘swag’ all combined to thrill the audience and persuade the judges that Diggin in Pit Toilet deserves another round. The first of three ladies, Lady B attempted to champion Workers Rights. Her passion was sincere but her efforts were unsuccessful. She was followed by another casualty of the night, the Elf. Dazzlingly clad, highly excited and tremendously amusing, Elf only managed to entertain the crowd rather than convice them that he was a serious contender. Nonetheless, Begging for the Crown is one to be enjoyed on the streets for jumpup. His successor Deros, delivered a satisfactory performance with his easy chant of Technicality. Confident and promising, his early exit from the competition this year bears no indication that his talent is limited. The appreciative crowd confirmed that, leaving the door wide open for an appeal next year.
Appreciation was in abundance at the Quarter Finals of this year’s calypso assizes. Comforter had the crowd rocking from side to side, with hands outstretched in a fit of Glory. Dressed in shining bright gold and red priests’ vestments, his derisive take on naughty pastors found easy favour. Lady Star hoped to follow his fortunes but her uninspiring Is that we want proved not wanted at the semis. Lightning strikes quickly and can do much damage in a short space of time. Only, Lightning eased the judges’ docket and condemned himself. With a solid first verse from Take of the Mask executed, the freshman choked at the start of the second, and as quick as lightning, a potential threat disappeared from the stage–literally, leaving many of his supporters disappointed and stung. But the disappoinment seemed a momentary one. Checko, a new favourite easily sailed through with the popular Am Pm despite his precarious over-exuberance on a competitive stage. Placards of the Prime Minister accompanied by red flags could be seen waving wildly. The crowd exploded into rapturous applause.
While the first half of the cases near an end, those who next took the stand winded down on a less dramatic note, but the lyrical power of the melodious, emotional cries of calypso graduates such as Jama B, Web and Bob forced listeners to do just that, listen. Blessed with remarkable voices and provocative concerns Jama B’s Silent Tears, Web’s Passport, and Bob’s Child of Mine signalled that the emotional-appeal approach may be the way to the throne. Not so lucky, Trendestter’s echoing call to Judge Judy fell on unsympathetic ears. The judges found him wanting evidenced by the guilty verdict they rendered against him.
Intermission over, the final leg was a fiery one. Juries, court reporters and curious onlookers would interject themeselves into the trial. the energy of the defendants demanded it. Triumph, gave a triumphant performance, perhaps the best of his career thus far, with Rum in Electoral Reform. He was succeeded by Soul Puss. With the bitter memory of his failings at last year’s finals, many were reluctant to dive in with unabashed support, and prepared to impose a hefty fine, but in no time, his audience was won over and sang along to his masterful declaration of Never be a Slave Again. Sugar S, decked in her Roman soldier attire was also quite strong in her presentation of Joan of Arc, but the song was not enough to push her through. However, Consistent-Checker’s cool delivery of If You Really Love Him left no room for error and even less room for doubt. His case was easily dismissed.
Video evidence is not allowed in our local courts but allowances would be made. Despite a full park of Dice supporters, One Video, beautifully sung by Beno, got an inital consent cheer from the crowd until he sang over a verse, committing calypso suicide, much to the amusement of the gangster king’s fans. Observer, followed, with State Enemy. In true Observer style, he was passionate, resolute and topical, which pleased the judges, if not the crowd. The train of veterans continued with repeat offender Picky. Although the spectators had mixed reactions to his One More Year request, he was in complete control of his song, reminding us what an authentic calypso performance, sans the the theatrics, used to be. Dice, considered the people’s king, came on in a Grammar School uniform to deliver Stand for Teacher. He effortlessly demonstrated why he is an exceptional performer.
Mighty Logus growing more confident with each passing year enchanted those assembled with his Strange Language. A nervous moment ensued with a supposed faux pas, but the recovery was so quick that even the judges dismissed it and offered him a pass to the next phase. Educator, although patriotic was somewhat unremarkable when he took the bench with Gem of the Caribeen. But Sye would more than make up for that. His Firebomb, angling to be a road march contender, whipped the calypso patrons into an ecstatic frenzy. The judges too, apparently and deservingly. Karessa played to his strengths as an entertainer in his presentation of Rose Giving me Blows with Her Shoe. He explained away his repeating of a verse as deliberate emphasis, arguing that all the three verses had been sung, so… His explanation was accepted by the powers that be for the night.
Bull’s Mediocrity was deemed to be indeed mediocre, halting any chances he had of progressing forward. Scrunter, on the other hand, was a giant. Witnesses and his fellow defendants alive were riveted to his every word of Advice, so when he proclaimed “see you at the finals,” the judges concurred. Explosion, rolled and wined his way through Pasta Wine to the delight of his audience. Despite the lighthearted nature of the song, the double-entendre was handled expertly. The finale belonged to Peter Pros’ Hairy Bank. Certainly not the most lyrically sound of calpysoes, his stage presence is unmistakable. His forgetful reputation was sidelined (for now) as he was able to deliver his entire song to a satisfied crowd who were only too happy to chime in.
Trials over, we left with a sense that for the most part, justice was carried out. Most represented themselves handsomely, giving a boost to season with varying shades of outstanding caiso quality. Woman’s time is under threat now, as with the dismissal of the ladies of this round, Tasha P wil stand as the lone female competitor. We inch closer and closer to the gates of the royal court and as the field of candidates for coronation narrows, fans expectations are piqued.
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