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Legend delivers at Tobago Jazz

By Joan Rampersad Sunday, April 27 2014

click on pic to zoom in
Brandy on stage....
Brandy on stage....

The pullout by Bunji Garlin (Ian Alvarez), musician, producer, song writer and arguably the most adroit lyricist of the day, and his band the Asylum Vikings that also includes his wife Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez resulted in an anti climax of the World Music Night of the Tobago Jazz Experience 2014 that was held at Pigeon Point Heritage Park on Friday.

The show that featured nine-time Grammy Award winner John Legend, Brandy and local crossover band Dil E Nadan, turned out to be sadly lacking the impetus to give credence to a true world music night via a much anticipated performance of Bunji and his band.

Thousands of patrons who turned up for the party after the international acts had to go home “dry mouth” and wanting for more.

Currently riding on a wave of international success having won the Soul Train Award for Best International Performance for the song “Differentology” in 2013, the band’s problems began when they found they were placed at the Grafton Beach Resort with all the other local artistes as opposed to the Stone Haven Villas where all the foreign acts were housed.

The next source of contention was that the band had to wait for hours for hotel rooms to be made available at the Grafton after agreeing to stay there, with the lengthy delay being due to not enough rooms having been reserved for the band.

Bunji, who has produced over 200 songs and ten albums to date, and his wife Fay Ann, former Soca Monarch and Road March winner, then took the decision to remove band members from Pigeon Point Heritage Park, where they had just completed sound checks, and head straight to the airport, deeming the situation untenable.

Fay Ann and Bunji described the situation as poor organisation and disrespect to local artistes.

But not only were Bunji and Fay Ann agrieved on the night. The media also came in for neglect as no area was provided for reporters to see the stage for themselves and experience the show first hand, nor for photographers to rest their equipment or freely get their shots. Some had to sit on the stony floor to mount their cameras then plough through patrons to capture the action on stage.

The media tent that was provided was so far removed from the stage that very little could have been accomplished there.

Also, in the days of the Plymouth Jazz Fiesta when those dreaded barriers separated the VIP and General sections, organisers of the event, the Tourism and Transportation Division of the Tobago House of Assembly, thought it was a wise idea to revisit this plan this year. It did not go down too well with patrons.

Nevertheless the show went on with Dil E Nadan giving patrons what turned out to be the performance of the night.

Impeccably dressed in blue, white and black, the band began its stint on stage with instrumentals of “Celebration” a bit of Miami Sound Machine’s music and “Get Lucky”, before vocalising “Reggae Nights” to get the party started.

Continuing with “One Drop”, “Happiest Man Alive”, “Blurred Lines”, “Press A Button” and “Big People Party”, Dil E Nadan had patrons on their feet with hands in the air. “Frankie”, “Pokey Way”, “Too Real” and “To Meh Heart” were their next offerings before the band gave the crowd a bit of old school soca with “The Hammer” and “Bahia Girl”, then it was the grand finale with “Leh Go”, and that the crowd did with glow sticks in the air. Dil E Nadan closed with its 2013 Chutney Soca title song, “I Eh Marriding”.

Fifteen minutes later Brandy Rayana Norwood, simply called Brandy, took the stage.

The singer (R&B, pop, soul), songwriter, actress, model, record producer and dancer, dressed in black and white shorts and top, had with her two dancers clad in black on stage throughout the performance.

However, her performance was marred by a poor sound system — the music overpowered her singing but she held her own to the end. Some of the songs she sang included “What About Us?”, “Sitting on top of the World”, “Baby”, “Dance With Somebody”, “Talk About Our Love” and “Have You Ever”.

Twenty five minutes later, John Legend, born John Roger Stephens, appeared to screams from the crowd.

Dressed in a white jacket and shirt, and black tie and trousers he took his seat at the piano for his acoustic performance.

Speaking at a press conference earlier at Stonehaven Villas, Legend had indicated that his performance would have been intimate and that way fans would have gotten to better know him.

That was achieved within the first 15 minutes of his performance but despite every song from him on the night being of the same superb rendition, patrons who had by then learnt of Bunji and the Asylum Band’s no-show, started streaming out of the Park. For those who stayed they were treated to songs from legend’s four albums to date — “The Best You Ever Had” had couples swaying, “Get Lifted” the title song of his first album back in 2004, Used to Love U”, “Stay With You”, “No One To Love”, “Can’t Be My Lover”, “Save Room”, “Let’s Get It On”, “Good Morning”, “One More Try” and “Ready To Go Right Now”. Then came the song the crowd was waiting for, “Ordinary People” that earned Legend two awards, for Best New Artist and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

He then closed with his first ever Number One single “All of Me”, that he has credited to persistence in the business, waiting ten years for this despite having two previous albums that went platinum but without the elusive number one on the charts’ hit list.

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