Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Well aged Vintage

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Vintage reggae is ageing like wine, with a new venue in the form of Kensington Oval, a larger crowd, and a string of local and Jamaican artistes having taken thousands down memory lane Friday night.
Vintage Reggae 2012, of the Barbados Reggae Festival, featured local acts Mike Grosvenor and Wendy Alleyne, and Jamaicans Ernie Smith, Glen Washington, Admiral Tibbett and Freddie McGregor – and of them, Admiral Tibbett stole the show, despite being the penultimate act.
He took the high standard of the evening to another level, treating the crowd, some of whom were rain-drenched, to a string of massive tunes in a 45-minute high-energy set that was simply electric.
Serious Time, Pon Mi Guard, Advantage, Come Into The Light, Tell Me Which One – all these awesome tunes flowed, pulling nearly every ounce of energy out of an audience that seemed set to listen to him all night.
And even when he rendered Poor Freddie and his encore song Leave People Business Alone, the crowd was still buzzing. A short break killed that buzz, which had to be revived somewhat by Li’l Rick, in his role as DJ, as he dropped five songs from his laptop, including a vintage non-reggae track!
Admiral Tibbett should have climaxed the show, since the closing act McGregor, for all his class, did not end it on a high.
The show, opened by local act Super Reuben, saw local veteran singer and arranger Grosvenor hitting the stage at 10 p.m., by which time the crowd had packed all three tiers of the 3Ws Stand while those on the ground were ready to dance in the rain.
Grosvenor did not disappoint, saluting them with Gimme Music, gliding through Pick Up From Where We Left Off, covering the classic Barbadian Fern Trail remake of the Herman’s Hermits original Sentimental Friend and Barrington Levy’s Too Experienced, among others.
His signature hit Tell Me had the audience hanging on to each lyric, before he strode off the stage upon covering Jimmy Cliff’s 1972 movie title track The Harder They Come. But more was to come.
MC Tony The Admiral Nelson joined the crowd in calling back Grosvenor, who then sugar-coated the set with Independent Man, Just Want To Be Your Friend and Jesus, Don’t Turn Your Back On Me.
It was appropriate that Wendy Alleyne, with whom Grosvenor had thrilled audiences in the halcyon days of local entertainment, followed him onstage, and she instantly dropped Sweet Jamaica as patrons grooved in the rain.
Alleyne was a delightful surprise for those who didn’t know of her early experiments with ska and reggae, as she treated them to UB40’s Sweet Sensation, Bunny Wailer’s Ballroom Floor and Bob Marley’s Lively Up Yourself.
Then she grooved into the familiar, spreading her spouge flavour over the patrons with Have A Thing About You, Standby Love, Let It Show and the cover of Midnight Blue which she has made her own. Nearly all of these, incidentally, were arranged over the years by Grosvenor.
In her varied set, Alleyne also covered Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers To Cross featuring Lloyd Denny on wailing lead guitar.
Echoing the view of most patrons, veteran promoter Mark Williams told the SUNDAY SUN: “Barbados held its own tonight”.
It was then the Jamaicans’ turn to flood the Oval with hits that dropped harder than the intermittent rain. And the first to do so was Ernie Smith, whetting appetites with Life Is Just For Living, Duppy Gunman, Ram Goat Liver, Pluto Shervington’s Your Honour, and the Kris Kristofferson original Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down.
From that point, Smith explained that when he first released All For Jesus in 1974 it caused a furore among Christians but today was part of a Caribbean Anglican hymnal. It was the cue for his rich deep-voiced hits to keep flowing, including Pitta Patta, the ska standard Sammy Dead O, and Play De Music.
Glen Washington followed but, in my view, was not right for this brew. Though a vintage artiste, his songs were far more cultural and rootsy than the love songs which dominated the other sets Friday night. He was good in his own right, with hits like Repatriation, Kindness For Weakness and Jah Glory – all mammoth songs – but more suited to a conscious setting.
McGregor ended the show with parts of Push Comes To Shove, Big Ship and others, ending a tight show in which the Jamaican artistes were all backed by the band Gumption and the exceptional sound levels were managed by QSI.
Hats off to FAS Entertainment!    

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