David Rudder held his first stage concert in three years. Held over two nights, the show, rocked the Jean Pierre Complex, leaving Trinidad anxious for more.
Friday night, and the steady rhythmic, persistent clapping echoes into the starless night-void surrounding the Jean Pierre Complex, sitting on the coastal outskirt of the Port-of-Spain capital.
It is 9 pm, and still an almost endless snake-stream of bodies makes its way as if from the sea itself, to the guarded barriers of the gates below and into the open air stands above..
They have come from everywhere it seems – to sit, to wait, eventually to flow en masse onto the stage side court, as yet but another void.Ten minutes later, the clapping grows louder and more restless, along with the new sounds of whistling and shouting of impatient anticipation.Some have already perched themselves in the bleachers, having arrived long before the 8:30 pm scheduled start, holding little sympathy fort hose still straggling in. They have waited three years for this moment and they are willing to wait no longer.
And as the national anthem finally comes to it’s reverent end, there opens another throbbing void yearning to be filled. Electronically controlled the stage roof moves slowly upward along the steel beamed stilts which support it, revealing a vacuum too great to be filled by Rapid Response and Charlie’s Roots, band members, making quiet melody in the background.
It is a void which calls one name, chorused by the voices of the eager mass before it and the Lydian Singers onstage who are the forerunners of his emergence.
The all wait for Rudder.
Suddenly the crowd glimpses a movement in red, making it’s way from backstage, coming up to fill the void.
In immediate response a roar grows among them, even as the Lydians are making their way off stage, making way for #Calypso‘s new king. The crown changes hands this night: it is in celebration of the coronation that they have all gathered. Their voices ring out in their approval.
- “Under the crescent moon,
- And on top of the bloody asphalt,
- Strange dogs were barking,
- Deep in the night…..”
#David Rudder opens with the songs of mourning in the first half of his performance with what he calls his Tales From TheDark Side. For the audience however these are songs of joy, songs that celebrate a genius borne out of the hard lessons learned in a way that only life in Trinidad can teach.
They celebrate the the triumphs, from the struggle of the pan man and the calypsonian and their music, to the uncompromising beauty of the bacchanal woman.
They also celebrate the tribulations, from the political upheaval in Trinidad in 1990 and in Haiti a few years later to the social turmoil of crime drugs and disillusionment which still plague us today.
Now it is his voice that echoes through the void, from the top of the stage, backed by band members, to the court below where the flood of bodies has begun to converse, to the night above which envelopes them. His voice resonates and through the void it reverberates.
But it is not Rudders voice alone which raises in this celebration.He is joined by others: Shadow, Ella Andall, Andre Tanker….and a woman in the stands uninterested in joining the throngs below, content only to join in on every lyric, to add her voice to theirs.
Shadow spreads his arms in the pain of Poverty is Hell, like a black drake soaring over creation; his voice is his wings. Andall, calls on the spirits with Orisha chants in her soulful search of the Missing Generation, standing defiant, beautiful as the bacchanal woman, and yet different, motherly.
Tanker makes his chant as well, and makes witness of the Callaloo Children Of The Big Bang who follow him onstage: Manwarren, Brown, Roberts, Salazar, Spencer, and the thousands more around them.
Together they sing a bittersweet but glorious tribute to life , to Trinidad,and to the Earth. Indeed they become it, a mass of voices which churns steadily than the waters some hundreds of metres away.
In the end though one voice rings louder than all the others- it feeds on them as they feed on it.
It is the voice which nurtured their own, which gave them worship in song like Calypso Music, The Hammer, and No Restrictions.
Rudder had given them manna from heaven, and from his soul, and they feasted on it on Friday night.
And on Saturday night, they crowned him King of Calypso.