Sat | May 25, 2019

Basic production missing from New Rules

Published:Thursday | April 6, 2017 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke
Alkaline performing during the closing of Magnum New Rules.

Magnum New Rules, two weekends ago at the National Stadium Car Park, was not only another concert in a slew of live performance events which take place in Jamaica.

It was a highly publicised return to the Jamaican stage of deejay Alkaline, whose recordings are immensely popular, but whose performances are suspect - not least of all because of his intensely scrutinised showing at Reggae Sumfest 2014. Since that, he has appeared extensively overseas.

And while the stampedes - the one at the VIP fencing and especially the one at the back - was especially bad for those caught in the crush, they were fortunate for the concert's organisers and Alkaline as the headline performer, as they distracted from serious interrogation to which neither could stand.

To be clear, it was good to have had the event in the first place, but its execution left a lot to be desired, starting with the bundling at the gate even at 10 p.m., (early in stage show time) because there were not enough barriers to create long, orderly lines for the volume of people. The search was cursory at best - it did not go past the pockets and the belt. No ankles, no armpits, no inner things. I could have carried in a couple guns or a half machete easily.

The venue was long, the stage close to the road (between the car park and National Arena) and bar at the back about 50 to 70 metres from Mas Camp's entrance. Yet there was only one screen - the stage backdrop.

The sound was generally between abysmal and horrible, and it was not a hardware issue, because as someone who has heard many a large concert before, when Shaggy came on, there was a major improvement. So it seems to have been an issue with the engineering and preparation for the event (including doing sound checks).

As far as I know, it was not said ahead of time that only Tarrus Riley, Mavado and Alkaline would be performing on tracks, so my expectation was a concert from start to finish, with professional MCs (and some of what was served up as hosting was outright crude). What I got before those three persons was a big dance, with cameos by Jahmiel, I-Octane and Shaggy, among others, performing to tracks. Then, Tarrus Riley with Anger Management Band, instead of his accustomed accompaniment, was not the same experience.

To cap it off, the lead-up to the concert and the structure of the show were designed for Alkaline to stand out, and I was way less than impressed. Performance takes time and repeat showings, so I have faith that he will improve. But having seen Ken Boothe's twirls, Beenie Man's tap dancing, Lady Saw's intensity, Sanchez's class, Spice's theatrics to augment outstanding ability, Beres Hammond's charm, Kabaka Pyramid's extended accuracy, Ninja Man's showmanship, Bounty Killer's speeches, Assassin's narrative between songs, and Buju's timing, among other strong performers, I know he has a long, long, long (can I add another long?) way to go.

Still, he is not the only one in this era of a deluge of songs without performance along the way.