Maxi Priest is a name that consistently draws huge crowds – though not in Grand Cayman last Friday night.
The legendary Grammy nominee, headliner for the Cayman Islands Music Festival, gave a creditable performance in an evening which nevertheless promised more than it ultimately delivered.
Held at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, the concert was far from plain sailing beset from the outset by technical issues.
The show started at 11pm, two hours behind schedule, as the technical crew scrambled to finish the sound check.
The evening was also hindered by a low turnout. This meant that Maxi Priest got neither the energy nor crowd feedback he deserved.
Maxi Priest started after 1am, over an hour late. This caused his set to be pared down. The knock on effect was that Turbulence’s performance was also shorter than expected. All this contributed to a good rather than a great concert.
An informal exit poll further suggested that the concert hadn’t matched expectations as Maxi Priest came with nothing much new in the way of material to offer, since his last album release.
Despite this most of the songs in his set were classics and carried a punch with his flawless delivery.
The concert was the last leg of Maxi Priest’s whistle-stop mini tour of the Caribbean in April: Grenada (21st), Barbados (22nd) and St. Lucia (25th).
When contacted, this year’s CMF organisers said that the show could have gone better and apologised for the late start.
‘The Royal Watler Cruise Terminal was a fantastic venue for the Cayman Music Festival. It is extremely spacious, has a great view of Seven Mile Beach, cool ocean breezes and ample bathroom facilities, said a spokesperson for Lifeline Promotions.
‘However, if anything could have been done differently, it would have been to have access to the Port facility for the entire day of the concert. Even though we had access on the night before, we were unable to continue setting up during the day. This seriously hindered our ability to set up and complete our sound checks in a timely fashion.
‘Although we expected a much larger crowd we are satisfied from the feedback we got that the people who came out to support the event enjoyed themselves,’ the spokesperson said.
Touted as the concert of the year, with a creditable line-up of local acts, expectations were naturally high.
The local talent did not disappoint. Anthony Ricardo, Diva Nina (Nina Orrett), KK Alese (Karen Edie), CBR, Asya & Anju Priest surpassed expectations and were uniformly strong. Particular stand-outs were rappers CBR, who had the crowd pumped in no time with a tight, lyrically sound set. KK Alese and Filipino band Asya were also crowd favourites.
Striding on stage after 1am the Jamaican, UK-born reggae star tried to get the crowd on board with his distinctive sound. With trademark locks swinging wildly and his voice at turns caressing and cajoling, the reggae star was a sight to see.
Ever popular with the female fans, Priest’s rallying cry for the evening of ‘I wanna hear my ladies scream’ hit the right note. Many complied with screams and cheers.
The chart topper hadn’t got far into his set, however, when some hapless VJ tripped and temporarily darkened the stage. Undaunted the consummate professional came through with songs like Just a Little Bit Longer, Best of Me and his cover of the Cat Stevens song Wild World. He got the crowd going when he jumped off stage and interacted directly with several lucky fans who got to shake his hand. His singing partner Red Fox also got a warm reception.
The popular dancehall artist with his trademark sky- high wrap on his head blasted the audience with his radically shortened set.
The singer/DJ’s performance was peppered with his views on vegetarianism, how to spot a true Rasta and political corruption.
In the remaining time given him, Turbulence was a crowd pleaser, never more so than when he sang his breakout hit Notorious. He came on briefly for an encore.