Fans left fuming after Montano’s seven-hour concert

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Machel Montano performs at his concert, Hasely Crawford Stadium early Saturday. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Two years after announcing Machel Monday 10 would be the final show of his Carnival concert series in 2020, soca star Machel Montano, the artiste dubbed as the king of soca, made a switch from the Monday before Carnival to Fantastic Friday for his concert – Machel 40-One Show to celebrate 40 years in the business.

Thousands of people stood in cramped conditions for hours waiting for the gates of the Hasely Crawford Stadium to open so they could enter the Machel 40-One Show on Friday night.

Workmen place a protective covering on the field of the Hasely Crawford Stadium around 9 pm on Friday ahead of the Machel Montano concert. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

The gates were advertised to open at 6 pm but were not up to 9 pm, leading to anger and frustration by general ticket holders who packed both Wrightson Road Extension and Fitzblackman Drive while queuing to enter.

Around 9.30 pm, the MC apologised for the late start, saying fire officers requested some adjustments to the organisers’ arrangement, and promised the concert would begin at 10 pm to give those at the gates time to enter.

However, one audience member pointed out that, at that time, workers were still putting down flooring to cover the grass at the complex in the general section.

Patrons took to social media to complain. One person on Twitter wrote, “When Machel said “40″ he meant the number of hours you’d have to wait outside. Patrons who celebrated 40th anniversary concert in New York said the comparison was chalk and cheese.

They also complained about the amount of traffic some experienced in the Port of Spain area, which started around 9 pm and delayed party-goers in the Woodbrook, Wrightson Road, St Clair, St James and Beetham areas. Many people found it difficult to find a parking spot.

Although people bought premium tickets knowing what it entailed, some of those ticket holders complained about the high price of the tickets which went up to $1,000 on Friday. The main issue was that the tickets were not food and drinks inclusive. They also felt the food and drinks available for purchase were expensive and that the lines to get to them were too long.

Also, it was possible someone forgot about acoustics when they set up the sound system at the stadium. Those in the stands complained that, while they could hear the songs well enough, when anyone was speaking, the “echoes” made the words muffled and difficult to discern.

However, as announced, the show started at 10 pm with Sekon Sta and numerous other local performers including Preddy and Hey Choppi.

Sekon Sta the opening act at Machel Montano;s concert at Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain on Friday. -Photo by Angelo Marcelle

At 11 pm, the Afrobeats section of the show began to the appreciation of the crowd who gladly sang and danced along to African artist Rema. Wiz Kid, came on next and many in the crowd, and a few in the stands, seemed to enjoy the performance but a look around the stands showed most people on their phones during that time.

An issue with the audio system could have been a contributing factor as, at times, the audio quality of his backing tracks would drop and his voice could hardly be heard. It was so bad that one patron even suggested he was lip-syncing except for the times he hailed out the “sexy ladies” in the crowd.

There was also a lot of lag time between sets, with the DJ playing a considerable amount of Kes the Band songs, and a hype man who mostly engaged those in front of the stage.

However, when it was announced that Machel Montano was coming on stage, people swarmed from everywhere – the bathrooms, bars, food lines, and the stands – into the crowd.

Patrons enjoy Machel Montano’s concert, Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

The energy in the stadium immediately tripled as he started the set with his 2023 song The Spirit, followed by Mr Happy and performed hit after hit including Like a Boss, The Fog, Haunted, Epic, Happiest Man Alive, Vibes Cyah Done, Big Truck, Advantage, Footsteps, and Craziness.

Montano had the whole crowd, thousands of people, jumping and singing along to every word. And those who did not want to deal with the crush of the crowd stood in the stands and wined at their seats.

His first guest performer and collaborator was Nigerian singer Ayra Starr who performed a few of her songs while Montano did a costume change before returning to sing their track, Never Again.

She was the first of many, as Montano took the audience through a musical journey of his career, sharing the stage with Viking Ding Dong, Nadia Batson, Benjai (who of course, finished his performance topless), KMC, General Grant, Olatunji, Voice, Iwer George, Patrice Roberts, Skinny Fabulous, Nailah Blackman, Destra, and Trinidad Killa, among others.

He went back to his Xtatic days, performing several of the band’s songs, including Pretty Gyal, Music Farm and Water Flowing with former band member, Farmer Nappy. Nappy then went on to sing his hits, Backyard Jam, Hookin Meh, and his Carnival 2023 song, Gyal Like Rain.

Patrons enjoy Machel Montano’s concert, Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday night. – Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Some were surprised and a bit disconcerted when Montano asked if anyone there had ever been to Soca Monarch at the stadium. Actual grumbling could be heard from some members of the crowd since the International Soca Monarch Competition was cancelled after Montano announced plans to host his concert on the same day.

As One Show was advertised as a celebration of the story of Carnival, he performed one song with a moko jumbie on stage, brought on some stick fighters for a choreographed performance, and performed with members of Signal Hill Choir, Siparia Deltones and Desperadoes Steel Orchestra.

He also had a tribute to Black Stalin (Leroy Calliste) who died in December 2022. Montano first sang Stalin’s Bun Dem, before turning the mic over to Stalin’s son, Kevan, who sang We Could Make It If We Try. Montano and Olatunji then sang Black Man Feeling To Party and invited members of Stalin’s family on stage where he thanked them for taking care of him throughout his illness.

The “King of Soca” ended the show, quite fittingly, with a performance of Soca Kingdom along with Superblue shortly after 5 am on Saturday.