Kes and guests rock

By Natasha Ofosu

Trinidad & Tobago | Saturday 19 March 2016: 9:09 GMT

Some carnival concerts focus on celebrating the artist who is the promoter, whilst others honour the music and musicians who the host themself loves. Kes the Band’s ‘Tuesday on the Rocks’ (TOTR), held on 2 February, was every bit the latter. It was telling that only three of the night’s guests had recorded collaborations with their host.

It was also a ‘big people party’, attracting predominantly mature people and couples. And, in keeping with the event’s theme, “Where the world meets”, the audience was noticeably multi-racial.

Led by Kees Dieffenthaller, the band opened with their current hit, People - fitting, as it pays tribute to God, their fans and loved ones. They ran through a suite of their popular songs from recent years, such as Falling, Just Wanna Jam, Thief Ah Wine, Ah Ting and Million. Lyrikal (Devon Martin) was Kes’ first guest, and joined them to perform their 2016 duet Unlimited Vibes - but took the song to new heights with a hand-clapping, foot-stomping Southern American Gospel jam, featuring an organ. Lyrikal kept the momentum going as he sang his solo tracks, Freedom, Cloud 9 and Dip and Roll. He paved the way for St Lucian Teddyson John, who gave another flawless performance of his positive song, Allez.

One of the stellar moments of the show was the ‘old school’ segment, featuring calypsonians Baron (Timothy Watkins), the Mighty Shadow (Winston Bailey) and David Rudder. They each performed a couple of hits, prompting an enthusiastic singalong from the crowd. Baron led the nostalgia with Feeling It and Somebody, his voice sounding as sweet as when he released the songs. Shadow followed, and delivered what some consider his finest calypso - Music (aka Dingolay). He could have stood on stage with his arms folded and his mouth shut, since the crowd took over the singing; the consummate performer that he is, he of course did no such thing. However, in sharp contrast, Shadow’s second number, What You Come Here For, fell flat- perhaps because the audience was less familiar with it.

The intensity resurfaced and hit a real high when Rudder appeared and turned the O2 Park, Chaguaramas, into a lunatic asylum with his song, Madness. He and Kees then gave a beautiful rendition of Live Yuh Life (Like Yuh Playing Mas), their unity-promoting duet from 2012.

Kees kept the mood introspective when he performed a partly a capella version of the soft rock song, Lion, and the band followed with their latest pop offerings, Balloons, during which white balloons were released into the night sky, and On My Way To Save You, which fuses rock, pop and reggae.

After segueing into reggae, the band performed Can’t Wait, their own dancehall track, as well as the two popular songs on the Jambe An riddim: Charly Black’s Party Animal and Non-Stop by International Soca Monarch (ISM) finalist Pternsky. This neatly set up the entrance of Jamaican dancehall star Cham (Damian Beckett), better known by his previous stage name, Baby Cham.

Cham brought a raw tone to the night’s proceedings - which was not to everyone’s liking. A number of people could be seen walking out once he started his performance. After a short freestyle on the Jambe An riddim, he began singing his own tracks including Wine, Joy Ride and Ghetto Story, throughout entertaining with deft dance moves.

One Jamaican to whom everyone gravitated was surprise guest and international chart topper Omi (Omar Samuel Pasley). He introduced himself with one verse and chorus of the original version of Hula Hoop, before performing his smash hit Cheerleader. Unfortunately, although his vocals were more audible than at Machel Monday the night before, the sound engineers still failed to get the right microphone volume levels for Omi; as a result, his voice was quite soft and lacking in impact.

Technical glitches caused Kes the Band to have to deliver acoustic interpretations of Stress Away, Tuesday on the Rocks - the song from which the concert takes its name - and Endless Summer. Perhaps that was a secret gift from the engineers. Normality was restored by the time respected singer-songwriters R City took to the stage. The duo, comprising brothers Theron and Timothy Thomas, hail from the US Virgin Islands and have written for some of the biggest names in contemporary music: Usher, Rihanna, Akon, Justin Beiber and Nicky Minaj amongst them. They performed a snippet of Beiber’s Sorry with Kees, before letting loose on the track Make Up and their 2015 hit, Locked Away. The brothers explained that the latter is based on their family’s experience when their father was imprisoned, leaving their mother to raise them alone. The original recording features the vocals of Adam Levine, frontman of pop band Maroon 5.

Rounding off the night’s complement of guest performers were soca artist Voice (Aaron St Louis) and singer Chris Hierro. Kees publicly endorsed Voice, whose song Cheers To Life was already hugely popular, to win the International Soca Monarch title on 5 February, saying, “I don’t care what they say, this boy going and win Soca Monarch in my books.” The young singer performed with the confidence of a winner – which of course he did go on to become.

Hierro, whose roots are in the Dominican Republic, injected some Latin flavour into the show when he performed Body Talk with the band, and had the additional help of a female Latin dancer, whose thrusts and struts brought the song’s lyrics to life.

The band closed their stage show just as they had started - with a performance of People. Joined by percussionists from the Laventille Rhythm Section and moko jumbie characters on stilts, this was an extended encore as Kees also introduced and thanked the band members and all of their guests. Much to the delight of patrons, the party continued for a short time afterwards on the grounds of the O2 Park, as the Laventille Rhythm Section beat out African rhythms on their drums and steel pans.

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Soca News
February 2017

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