PAN GLORY: A Pan Elders Steel Orchestra member enjoys herself during the band’s performance of Come Out to Play at Panorama medium conventional bands semi-finals at Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
On what is commonly known as the Drag at the Queen’s Park Savannah, bands readied themselves for the 1 pm start of the Panorama semifinals on January 28.
Although the competition got off to a half-hour late start due to a technical issue, the medium and large bands moved quickly on and off stage for a relatively smooth first half of the annual competition.
Initially 14 medium steelbands were expected to play at the semifinals, also dubbed Savannah Party, this year, but it was reduced to 13 when Petit Valley’s Valley Harps was disqualified due to not having the minimum number of players.
President Christine Kangaloo and Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts Randall Mitchell were among the attendees.
Sectioned by the Grand Stand, North Stand, Greens and (informally) the Drag, thousands of people in the various sections came together to support, cheer, or simply enjoy many Trinidadians’ favourite pastime – a good lime.
The competition started with NGC Steel Xplosion playing Sparrow’s 1992 Both Ah Dem at 1.35 pm.
In a brief interview with Newsday as she moved about the Grand Stand, PanTrinbago president Beverley Ramsey-Moore said she was pleased with the competition’s start and was looking forward to each band bringing their best.
From as early as 12 pm, cars snaked their way to the savannah and was guided by police along the route.
Earlier, the TTPS issued traffic restrictions informing the public of the streets they could take to get access to the Savannah and the Savannah Party.
People were seen in groups, walking with coolers for the popular lime.
Last year’s medium band winner, Tobago’s Katzenjammers played in third position with an uptempo version of Merchant’s 1985 Rock It.
As the competition got on the way, the body count in the stands also built.
The bpTT branded North Stand quickly filled with corporate bodies and their guests.
Temporary stands were lined with drinks and food as the groups and their guests partied and listened to the bands. There were also rhythm sections, adding to their fun.
Of the thousands there, Newsday spoke with three people who attended the event for the first time.
A Debe woman who wished not to share her name said seeing the togetherness at the event made her feel proud to be Trinidadian.
Events like these could only benefit Trinidad, she said. Her experience at Sunday’s event promised to make a repeat visitor out of her, she said.
An 18-year-old Jordan from Diego Martin said he was not exposed to events like these as a child but came with his father this year.
He, too, said he would be returning next year because of the “good time” he had on Sunday.
He said he believed more and more young people would start attending to events like these as it encouraged positivity.
PAN FUTURE: Merliq Nathaniel, 9, of NGC La Brea Nightingales, hits the right notes during the band’s performance of Nah Leaving at Panorama medium conventional bands semi-finals at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Sunday. – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale
A Belmont man dressed in a corporate branded t-shirt said while he found Panorama “noisy” and it was not his thing, he was enjoying the togetherness it fostered. He could not say if he would attend next year.
The music of yesteryear was the tune of choice for many of the medium bands. The only recent tune of choice was Olatunji’s 2023 hit, Engine Room.
The oldest song played was Superblue’s 1980 Soca Baptist. The iconic singer joined Sangre Grande Cordettes on stage for its performance in his trademark blue. He was its flag man.
Former winners NGC Couva Joylanders’ performance of the Byron Lee and Dragonaires’ 1995 Soca Tatie gained a strong applause from the audience and had some dancing at the exit used by bands to leave the stage.
Volume swells, musical allusions, dancers and strong rhythm sections were features of many performances.
The last band Point Fortin’s Tornadoes ended the medium category at 6.50 pm playing Olatunji’s Engine Room.
This year’s event was in tribute to former Pan Trinbago president Patrick Arnold who died last year
There were to be 30 bands in the semifinals but Harmonites withdrew and Valley Harps was disqualified due to not meeting the minimum number of players. The large bands began their fight for a spot in the finals just after 7 pm.