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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Machel Concert review, Midnight show

Thanks to dougla_1 for the follwoing review in his words:

Hi Saucy,
For the midnight show, I arrived at 12:05am, and was relieved there was still a steadily moving line from 7th Avenue walking into the Madison Square Garden Theater. I had left my Brooklyn apartment at 11:35pm, quite concerned I would miss the opening of the show. But that feeling was allayed as I joined the line on my way into the Garden. There was a palatable air of anticipation as the orderly multi-ethnic crowd of about 60% female (dominant attire for the night was jeans, glam top, light jacket) entered the long, cozily lit entrance hallway that led to the Theater auditorium.

Just before entering the larger than expected concert space, I purchased a beer at the drinks concession stand immediately outside the doors. To my seat, I took the drink, poured into a plastic cup, which was to help sustain the little buzz I had from a home brew of Hennessy and cranberry juice consumed to put me in the party mood on my walk from my parked vehicle to the Garden. Inside the nicely sloped auditorium the crowd had almost already filled the space to capacity with more entering as I found my seat. People continued to take their seats while Dahved Levy (one of the concert organizers, NYC’s WBLS 107.5 FM radio personality, DJ, and native of Barbados) was talking something or the other as he is known to be verbose. But, I think he needed very little to hype the already hyped crowd. He did informed the ushers that it is a Caribbean crowd so if some rushed the aisles it is all cool, it is just a fete in the place or something like that. Then he said, “allyuh ready for MACHEL!!!” That was all we would hear from Dahved until the end of the show, and the last time the entire audience would remain seated. It was quite obvious that Trini’s in the house were well represented because 90% of the bandanas, hand rags, and flags were the T&T flag of red, white, and black. I took a big gulp from my cup of beer; let the show begin. Now, forgive me if I recall some of the performance highlights out of sequence and some of the facts just a little hazy at this point. So, here goes.

In one word, the concert was FANTASTIC!!! The curtain opened to a stage that had musicians in front of a floor to ceiling background, which appeared to be giant reeds (I suspect in line with a Trinidad heritage they represented being in the midst of a sugar cane field). The sugar cane field appeared to be made of golden lamé (the single set, the giant puppets, and most costumes were designed by Peter Minshall; later in the show I did notice four dancers who wore Island People’s 2k7, Sahara section with the wing backpack). The first sounds, as the curtains opened, were the pumping steady beats of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” with a twist; the words were “We Will Resurrect You.” As the beat continued, a female performer appeared from the back of the stage fluttering to the front wearing a yellow and orange variation of one of Minshall’s most famous and seminal Trinidad Carnival mas design, the Humming Bird. The performer danced and was soon join by a chorus of male and female performers (stage left and right) in long flowing church choir gowns, each performer wearing dreadlocks wigs and various forms of head ties. There was a symbolic taking of the wings of the free spirited, dancing Bird of Paradise, as she was beating down by batoned police (this seems to be a reference to the Canboulay riots, and the lost of freedom for the Carnival parade). Then, (or was it before) Machel entered the stage.

The audience went wild, and almost in unison rose to our feet, and would remain standing, dancing, and jumbieing all through to the end of the show. First in his repertoire was"Higher Than High” and most of his tunes for this night belonged to his recent CD, “HD, the book of angels.” Machel’s first guest artiste on stage with him was Shaggy. I don’t remember exactly what they sung, but the vibes were very high. The audience was still jamming, standing in front of our seats, in the aisles, and directly in front just below the stage. Yes, it was a fete in Madison Square Garden!

Next up was Drupati, and she began the short segment with the Machel collaboration “Unity” (hit about four years ago). She was joined on stage by about twelve dancers wearing Minshall’s colourful version of the traditional India female’s dance attire. Then, she and Machel bumped it up to “Like Bollywood” from the new CD. Somewhere in the show about four moko jumbies (no not THAT one yet), were dancing as they towered over Machel, and as the fellas rocked back on their stilts wining as if they were on the ground, I was concerned they would fall down to the stage. Not me at all. I’ll leave that mokoing to those jumbies. Machel went through about ten wardrobe changes, none really distinguishable from the next, but they did provide transitions as the show moved forward.

Doug E Fresh, took the stage during one of Machel backstage outfit changes, and he rocked the house with his amazing human beat box sounds. He never lost the audience once, then Machel joined him on stage and they pumped up the crowd even higher, most everyone still on our feet (just one or two there an about took a little sit down rest). Doug E left the stage to loud applause. Then, Machel flirted with the ladies in the front (“One More Time” was sung during the show but I don’t remember when), and never letting them forget he could wine and jook. He asked how many people have children, and reminded all never to forget them. And so he, song his tribute “We Not Giving Up” (a Doug E Fresh 2k6 collaboration) with three little kids in a cute little boat that made it’s way across stage right to left, between two undulating stage wide, blue fabric that evoked waves in the ocean. This was a nice touch, as the sound seemed heart felt. The kids waved goodbye and goodnight as the little boat reached stage left (Machel having left the boat closer to stage right).

Machel himself, not forgetting that there is always a continuum of generations, introduced the “king” of Soca and Calypso, David Rudder (I don’t remember if that was before or after Machel song “Too Young to Soca” A CAPPELLA). Well, David tore down the house, as he vigorously went through a couple of his famous tunes including “Bahia Girl” as if he possessed a body of a man 25yrs younger. This was clearly displayed with “High Mas,” at one point doing a kind of Baptist ketch the spirit dance solo, that would have youths scratching their head saying “ah cyar handle dat nah.” It was quite a special moment as David was clearly feeling the vibes of the audience and the higher power that inspires his life. Applause, applause, and applause for the man, he definitely was not fronting. After the Rudder set, Machel had a fun interlude with a white male performer with a couple of American top 40 tunes (not really necessary for this show IMHO.)

“JUMBIE!” someone yelled, as Machel again took center stage. He said, “wait nah, ah not ready yet.” He paused a beat, said, “ok, ok, allyuh must be ready for some road march tunes.” He ran and disappeared stage left and reappeared on top of a “big” red truck prop (half a stage high, and sort of what a typical little kid would draw), as the sound of the big hit “Big Truck” horn blasted through the hugh, stage speakers. The crowd barely had a chance to breath from “Big Truck” as the very fit looking Patrice Roberts joined Machel on stage with “Band of the Year.” Then the spirited medley ended with both of them singing “Light It Up.” Patrice asked the lighting director to turn off the house lights, and the effect of the bright, short glow sticks was evident in lighting it up. Still the jumbies in the audience were quite restless, having been whipped up to an exhilarating outta body experience from the show so far, which was now over two hours.

The finale started with a voice narration as tall jumbie puppet (six or eight total, carried more like giant standards) appeared from the sugar can field at the back of the stage set. Then the dreadlocks chorus returned on stage, now with a tall costumed male angel at center, in a typical Minshall winged design, dancing his white wings. The audience again went wild with anticipation as Machel emerge at front center from stage right, and “Jumbie” was ON! Machel was dipping at center stage, and shouted “RAH!!!, do the jumbie dance.” And the audience was more than ready to oblige. Now, everyone could confirm that they were in fact having an out of body experience. Machel certainly performed and entertained in the best manner as only he could, and his popularity proves. “Jumbie” was no exception. In continuation of the finale, the winged angel cloaked Machel with his wings. Then as the chorus parted at center stage the Bird of Paradise returned with her yellow and orange wings having been fully restored, and danced her way to the forefront. She was followed by the four Island People’s Sahara section dancers, and three white and pink copies of Minshall’s most famous world traveled giant mas puppets, though slightly smaller and with “jumbie” heads. Within minutes, Tan Tan and Saga Boy, the giant puppets not weary from travel, came on stage. Not shy at all, Tan Tan put down some wine on Saga Boy, as Machel encouraged us with more “Jumbie.” There was a sense nobody wanted this concert to end, but ended it must. By that time, the Queen’s inspire thump was shaking the speakers with “We Will Resurrect You.” Machel thanked all for coming out to support him. He pointed to the group of performers, now with the reappearance of the Indian dancers, on stage saying all these people are from several of the Caribbean countries. The implication, clearly a unity message for the Caribbean diaspora. He said he was grateful to all for helping him fulfill his dream of headlining a show at Madison Square Garden. The Trinidad and Tobago native son represented well, in the Big Apple, on his continued journey to international superstardom. I suspect it was indeed truly an outta body experience for the vast majority of the audience. Back to yuhself, could be returned with levity, a big smile inside, and much appreciation. RAAAAH!!!!

Colin (dougla_1)

The Headlines are all Machel

The weekend coverage for Machel HD continues with the following Express concert review:

Machel makes Madison
Wayne Bowman in New York

Sunday, March 25th 2007

The overseers and staff of Madison Square Garden in New York never experienced anything like what Machel Montano delivered at the world famous venue on Friday when Bless God Entertainment produced his 25th Anniversary Concert.

Host of the show, Dahved Levy, told the audience that Montano had created history as the first artiste ever to have two sellout shows at MSG on the same night. Montano presented two concerts, the first at 8.30 p.m. and the other at midnight.

The concert, which took place at The Theatre @ MSG featured some elements from the AC5 concert of last Carnival, but with several new features and a much tighter presentation. The set design and dramatic choreography was done by Peter Minshall, who created a grove of golden bamboo shoots on the stage and also created a number of mas charatcters that Montano incorporated into his performance. The sold-out audience of 6,000 at the first show were wowed by the visuals as much as they were by Montano's music and vocals, which were spot on.

Check the above link to read the rest of the article.
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