Monday, April 15, 2024

Akonmania!

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International artist Akon promised the audience “madness” but what he failed to say was that there would also be the unexpected – chaos and perilous conditions.
If many were paying attention at the start of the show his entrance to a video clip of a gunfight and burning buildings should have been an eye-opener.
The artist created pandemonium by going into the massive crowd on the shoulders of security personnel, not really a necessary part of his 20-song lipsynching as he already had the crowd hyped and pushing hard against the unbreachable iron barriers. He had fans grabbing, pulling and yanking at him and groping his private parts and it was a miracle no one was hurt.
Last Saturday, the second to last day of the two-week St Lucia Jazz And Arts Festival, there was a calm before the storm called Akon descended on the grounds of the historic Pigeon Island.
Those who braved the sun with umbrellas and hats saw performances from Tito Puente Jr and his diverse South American orchestra who excited the crowd with their Latin beats and exciting drumming.
The three-time Tony Award-winning Tony Allen, with the FELA Queens, was a nice Afrocentric mix and while the band didn’t rouse the crowd, the addition on stage of vibrantly dressed dancers in their pom-poms and beads, thrilled the crowd with their sensual, exotic movements. The sole female singer in the band was excellent.
Robbie Greenidge and band had the crowd enjoying some fantastic pan and it became even better when they were joined by Trinidadian David Rudder who, while he didn’t sing Rally ’Round The West Indies, had the crowd rallying around him while he performed High Mas’ (Give Praise).
He took the crowd back to Laventille and his countrymen and women surged to the front of the stage to put on their own type of feting to Trini To The Bone, with flags in hand.
Luther Francois Calypso Projections was enjoyable as the first act.
Akon, who closed the show, had the crowd in the palm of his hand with children under the age of 12 singing his every song – even the ones that were not suited for them.
The concert started with a clip on a giant screen showing fast frames of action and violence, ending in an explosion of gunshots.
Out of the smoke and fire emerged Akon, in white, sending the crowd into raptures.
With his DJ hyping the crowd, bare-chested and wearing a plaid kilt, Akon performed Locked Up, Smack That, Kuduro, Chumnack Chalo, Chop My Money, Gun Shot, Ghetto Stories and others.
Reading the audience, he kept going nearer and nearer to them. He would walk to the edge of the stage, drench himself with water and ask the fans to wave hands and scream.
His DJ took it to another level with aerosol spray and lighters, igniting the crowd even more. Akon couldn’t be outdone by his DJ so he stepped it up by walking along the length of the barrier for more than 20 yards.
Men, women and children were delirious as he shook hands with as many as possible, and the yanking and pulling had him teetering dangerously close to falling into the crowd. Security personnel had a hard time holding him up and the fans back. The fans could hardly believe their eyes when Akon then asked to be taken into the crowd.
“Security, let the fans get closer,” he said. “That makes the situation better and controllable. But, women and children, please stay out the way.”
He repeated the appeal four times during his ten-minute stay in the audience. The crowd’s ear-splitting screams must have distracted them from the fact that he wasn’t singing live and some fans and media were heard to remark that his lip-synching was atrocious for the kind of money he was being paid.
But most fans were there for the show and a show was what Akon gave them.
They left the grounds sweaty and weary after an almost ten-hour event.

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