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Tuesday, May 30, 2023
De Alberto performing at the Kaiso Lime finale. Photograph: Stephen Spark

Shadow tributes light up final Kaiso Lime


The walk to The Tabernacle on Saturday 3 November was punctuated by the whizzes and bangs of Guy Fawkes fireworks. But would the Kaiso Lime season end with a bang or the fizzle of a damp squib?

The late start was not promising, but a nostalgic selection from DJ Fats kept the mood mellow. Eventually the technical problems were mostly overcome and Tobago Crusoe got the show under way. Deputising as MC in place of the advertised Coco P, he reminded us that we had just lost two iconic figures from the world of calypso in the past few days ‑ The Original De Fosto Himself (Winston Scarborough) and “a superstar in calypso” The Mighty Shadow.

Crusoe had known Winston Bailey long before he was the Shadow and noted that he came from a musical family – “even the sewing machine was a Singer!” Not unnaturally, the evening’s entertainment was dominated by calypsos from the late, great Bassman. Who else could have written lyrics like those of Alexander D Great’s choice of musical tribute, Survival Road?


The cat loves the rat
But the rat don’t need no love like that
He loves the rat for his face
He loves the way rat face does taste.

The “brutal business” of the natural world was just one of the subjects Shadow drew on for his lyrics, married to that distinctive delivery and deceptively simple, hauntingly addictive melodies. Following that, Alexander injected some irreverent humour into the evening with the Grandmaster’s Dr Kitch.

Shadow’s vocal style clearly suits D Alberto, who paid tribute with a wonderful rendition of that celebration of the power of music, Dingolay, along with Stand By Me, Put Down de Knife and his popular and topical Harry fuh King. De Admiral’s Shadow number was Ah Come Out to Play and he also gave us Roaring Lion’s Caroline and his own 2018 UK Monarch-winning calypso The Windrush Generation, just released on CD.

If there’s one Shadow song you won’t be able to get out of your head once you’ve heard it then it’s surely Bassman. It fell to Patriot, the son of Trinidad Rio (Daniel Brown), to bring this great song to our eager ears, in a cappella style ‑ different, but effective. He then sang his father’s Travelling Man, which was a treat too.


For those who have only heard – and invariably been impressed by ‑ Sheldon Skeete singing his own compositions, it was a revelation to catch his renditions of Kitchener’s Saxophone, Bomber’s Mr Unfortunate and (a real delight) Lord Nelson’s King Liar.

Gabriele Equerre performing at the Kaiso Lime finale. Photograph: Stephen Spark

Another revelation was Gabriel Equerre on violin. Violin for calypso ‑ really? Well, yes. From the very first note, you realised it worked really well. Born on the French Indian Ocean island of La Réunion ‑ where the local music, maloya, has much in common with calypso – the multi-talented musician is resident in Paris and plays a range of instruments. The finale was a duet of Equerre on violin and Justin ‘Redz’ Richardson on steelpan, playing Nani Wine. It was a pairing of two virtuosos that brought the evening, and the 2018 Kaiso Lime season, to a triumphant close.

To judge by the smiles on the faces of people as they left the Tabernacle, the evening’s musical fireworks had definitely sparkled!




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