Trinidad and Tobago - For four straight hours after the medium bands made way for the big guns in the panorama race on February 9th 2013, the music riveted. Live and direct…love was diffused throughout the world to those who it reached. All were bouncing and driving to the sweet blend of musical harmonies on the night of the most anticipated event during the carnival season – the Panorama Final (large band) competition.
But based on the favourites that arose out of the semi-final round, no one, except perhaps its players and supporters, envisaged the star on final night would have emerged as the BP Renegades Steel Orchestra.
Playing in position three – two after Silver Stars, their rival in tune-of-choice ‘Shock Attack’ and delivering a fiery and captivating rendition – Renegades, in comparison, appeared mediocre…not as tight, fired-up or shocking, but that was merely the perception coming on the heels of that vibrant performance. Minds were still wired.
With a slightly uncertain opening to the introduction of their performance, ‘De Gades’ was indeed tight, fired-up and shocking – clean, focused, precise and spot-on – with successive spasms of shock effects jabbing.
Performing emotionally and psychologically battered, the band graced the stage cognizant of protecting its hat trick and reeling under grief owing to the sudden death of one of its crucial players four days after he performed at semi-finals, ultimately seeing the pan yard transform into a funeral chapel two days before finals.
In stark contrast from the literal meaning of renegades, the remains of the fallen peer – Tony Lewis – lying in state at the specially devised rotunda, drew on the more vulnerable side of Renegades, but for his death to be used as an impetus to gain strength, play in his honour and make an impressive showing on final night were the mandates.
One should recall Renegades’ last taste of winner’s row as being 1997 – their hat trick out of a nine-win record.Between then and 2010, they swayed within the bottom half of the competition as if to say… “We can’t be selfish, we giving our contenders a chance to create a good credit rating…enjoy victory.”
They fell out of the final line-up in 2011, bounced back in fourth position in 2012, and in this, the historic 50th Anniversary competition, trekked back into winners’ row placing third after Petrotrin Phase II and Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars.
This expected-unexpected outcome, clearly, based on the People’s Choice and the views of the man-in-the-street, literally caused a shock attack for many.
Second-year arranger with Renegades, Duvone Stewart, unwaveringly optimistic about his ability, was literally laughed at during commentary, citing his ability to bring single-pan and small bands, only, to winners’ row alluding to his inability to match swords in the big-band category but evidently, words to be swallowed.
When asked on ‘the drag’ by the CNMG’s (Caribbean New Media Group) roving interviewer what the listening audience can expect from Renegades, second-year, and first female captain Candice Andrews graciously said, “a winning performance, that’s all,” and a winning performance it turned out to be, given the last 15 years.
Manager Michael Marcano, his board members and management team; the sponsor, players, supporters and the community at large, should feel proud having awakened on Carnival Sunday to a new dawn as they cross the threshold into another 50 years of national panorama – phase two of a star called Renegades.
Moving towards premiere status, Renegades Steel Orchestra wishes to congratulate the other bands that performed during this Golden Jubilee 2013 panorama season but more so, the winners and the cream of the crop that made it to the finals of the other panorama competitions.
Sandra L. Blood is a Life Skills Consultant, Lecturer (on Life Skills) and Panist for 39 years
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