Huge turnout for better UDC fireworks, fewer artistes
Marcia Rowe, Gleaner Writer
Against a backdrop of a cacophony of sounds, the skyline above Kingstons idyllic waterfront erupted in spectacle and grandeur. And for the large crowd that converged on the venue of choice to usher in the new year, it was sheer delight.
Not only from the spectacle that rained down, but also the energetic and spiritual performances from gospel artistes Lubert Levy, Apostle and Kevin Downswell, complimented with positive lyrics from Nature and the iconic Ken Boothe.
The occasion was the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) annual New Years Eve extravaganza, Fireworks on the Kingston waterfront. While the event itself commenced early in the afternoon, converting Ocean Boulevard into a big funday and street party, it was the fireworks and concert that magnetised a large portion of those who made their way downtown, Kingston, on Wednesday.
They were not disappointed. Before the magical transition took place, they received energetic performances from Shady Squad, Voicemail, and Dwayne Stephenson, who sang about Real Ghetto Pain and his Little Cottage in Negril. When Downswell came to the stage, he maintained the energy, but on a spiritual level, especially as he declared, Its Already Done and had the crowd waving objects to I Got Jesus. During the singing of If Its Not Him and what Downswell called his anthem, he took a break for the countdown to 2015.
On the stroke of midnight, the sky opened and, for 12 minutes, one of the best fireworks seen in years changed the nights sky. With the barge of the Jamaican Coast Guard placed nearer than usual, the display was exciting, intimidating and spectacular and, not surprisingly, generated reactions of oohs and ahs. At some point, Downswell resumed his act, adding to the clash of sounds.
Boothe followed and, with his customary stylish twist and turns, he crooned I Really Think You Are Nice, Puppet on a String, among others. The entertaining concert ended with the not-so-well received Nature, who included Garnet Silks Mother Africa in his set.
For the White family, from Linstead, St Catherine, it was a good show. The seven, whose ages range form five to 34, have watched the show on television each year, and decided to make the trek into the nations capital for a first-hand experience this year. The Gleaner caught up with them as they waited for the crowd to disperse. From the chorus of responses, the experience was worth the trip. While they were particularly blessed by Downswells musical ministry, entertained by MC Miss Kittys humour and awestruck by the fireworks, they adjudged the overall concert good and promised to return.
For Tracy-Ann Watson and Olrick Graham, who have attended previous shows, it was a different story. Watson, who arrived at 11 p.m., said she could not hear nor see the happenings on the stage due to the large crowd. So it was only after the last act performed and the crowd dispersed, that she was able to make her way to the front, where barriers now opened for free movement. She watched as various technical teams dismantled equipment, as music from a sound system was played.
GOOD BUT SHORT SHOW
Graham, similar to the Whites, thought the show was good, but too short, especially in comparison to previous concerts he had attended. He observed that fewer artistes performed at the 2014/2015 show.
His observation was confirmed by UDCs acting customer service officer, Nekorah Phillips.
Phillips admitted it was, indeed, a shorter concert. She explained that in addition to budgetary constraints, "We wanted to add another element to the show. We wanted to do a selector clash, but only one of the selectors showed up as the other deejays daughter was ill. But, all being equal, we will introduce it next year."
Both deejays are from communities in the downtown area, as UDC continues to promote and highlight the talents of people from the area.
"Apart from the shortened programme, other areas of differences to previous fireworks concerts were that the show commenced with the National Anthem, there were more gospel acts and, closing the concert with a vintage traffic rather than a dancehall-hype. So we take it down a little notch this year." Phillips said.
Partner for the event, Digicel, was pleased to be on board once again, and, according to Barry O'Brien, CEO, Digicel Jamaica, "It's always wonderful to see communities coming together in celebration as one big family. This is why Digicel has partnered with the UDC, for a fifth year, to stage this calendar event, which has a magnificent fireworks display for many to enjoy while ringing in the New Year. As we enter 2015, we look forward to continuously delivering great value to our customers and having another extraordinary year."