Stirring dancehall singing from Pinchers
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Dancehall style singing is a dying art - literally, what with this year's death of Sugar Minott and the virtual disappearance of sound systems, which rely on a crew of entertainers to deliver the bulk of the night's musical fare live.
It is a kind of singing where purity of voice and hitting notes cleanly share pride of place with topic, what is termed these days as 'swagger' and a definite personal style which must include at least a touch of braggadocio.
On Sunday night Pinchers, the man who stamped his style into dancehall in the late 1980s, put on a strong showing sound system style at Kingston Rock, held at Studio 38, Pulse headquarters, Trafalgar Road, New Kingston.
In the process he demonstrated an impressive catalogue of popular songs - and there was, of course, that unforgettable Pinchers style in both his dress and delivery.
From his opening Return of a Don, Pinchers also kept up a narrative between songs which gave the performance, structure. He referred to the command "pirate draw down your antenna, I'm picking up your wave on my net" and said "dem time we not even a pre music inna wave form, or Internet. That mean I was ahead of my time".
He could not put a musical foot wrong, with members of the average-sized audience cheering to demand a restart at several points. Pinchers cut most of the songs short, in any case, Lift It Up Again ran into Siddung Pon It. "We jus' a cut an' go through. Many things in the basket," Pinchers said, proceeding to give the ladies Agony, which they naturally loved. Pinchers did some tongue twisting as he went rapid-fire on the line "100 per cent of love", which gave his performance an extra lift.
The narrative continued, Pinchers saying "after the agony, she want to get close", going into For Your Eye Only, which proved one of the stronger songs on a strong night. It was also the first song Pinchers did at length, including a passable attempt at scatting. Ironically, the men reacted as strongly to the intention to "fan dung the girl them bus" as the women, then he went into Champion Bubbler.
Pinchers said he had added some lines to the original song, going into the sexual experience with "fi siddung pon it is not a easy ride ... dreamy eyes turn bugs eyes".
Still Pinchers upped the pace with I'm a Don, one of his signature songs, making his musical donship clear ("Pinchers a don, then who a Donovan ... "). It was the opening to a run of 'tough' tunes - Maas Out, Borrow No Gun and Hell Up Inna Harlem, which all got the forward treatment. For good measure Pinchers added a poem from the 'shotta's' point of view, demanding "I must be stopped".
The start of Sen Another One Come caused pandemonium. Pinchers took it to the "enemies on the borderline". The music of Desperate Scenario was enough to cause a musical conflagration even before Pinchers started the song and when he rode west musically and went into a deep voice to imitate Bounty Killer. He was in masterful dancehall mode.
When Pinchers screeched 'level!' a la Rodney Pryce, the audience hollered its forward.
Bandelero is another Pinchers signature song and it was duly given its howling plaudits before he introduced a pair of younger performers, who had their good moments. It was close to the end of a very strong showing from Pinchers, as he reminded all of his Kingston 13 roots, declaring "tink a sen dem sen me, a come me come", before going back briefly to Bandelero to end a good dancehall night.