I’ve been here since Thursday, and I am awaiting what the locals coined to be one of the weakest castings since the Tobago Jazz inception. With budgetary limits and one of the main acts pulling out at the last minute, who knew what to expect. Wyclef Jean and Shabba pulled off an amazing show on Friday, however this is about Grace Jones and the one performer people had no idea how to wrap their minds around.
Fast forward to Sunday, I am already supposed to be back in Trinidad, ’cause who wants to see Grace Jones at 63 years old, right? (Discussions about the gender based biased ageism later.)
Tobago is lovely, I still have my Press Pass why not.
First off I recognised the number of trailers, the number of staff; the entourage was substantial compared to the other acts that came before. From then on out I knew we were in for something, just wasn’t sure what. Ms. Jones was scheduled to begin at 9:30pm, and from the looks of things wardrobe was being set up side stage and her lighting technicians were busy organising additional stage lighting. So it’s approximately 10:30pm and it’s about to begin, lights are off, Tobago Jazz Experience staff is rushing to the front of stage, the photography pit is full by now.
Grace Jones enters the stage behind a banner with her face on it, she’s adorned in tribal-painted skin & fitted nude-coloured corset—I am assuming from where I was sitting her breasts were just painted—with a skull mask.
Don’t ask me what song she started with, but it was visually stimulating enough for me to pay attention, the band was “tight’’, the guitarist at this point is playing the airiest guitar lines in between cuts of what is a drum and bass rhythm. The lighting is noticeably different from the rest (lighting was the major pet peeve throughout the weekend), her lighting crew clearly took over.
Song after song, and each costume change I was sitting in amazement of it all—well maybe not the songs, because they weren’t anything notable in my opinion, although Leatherette and Pull Up to My Bumper stood out. The band was well rehearsed and the best thing I’ve heard all weekend, and the sound coming from stage was top-notch, seeing they were one of the few bands that got a sound check.
It would appear most of the island weren’t familiar with Grace Jones, seeing the scant crowd at Pigeon Point. She reminded me a lot of Fela Kuti in just pure boldness and braveness of sound. A Calypso, Reggae, Rock, Funk, Rapso soundscape. Clearly she influenced the Lady Gaga’s and Cee-Lo’s of this world. This is performance art par excellence.
There were murmurs about her breasts being out, I saw a couple “steups”, some walked out. Trust her fans stayed front stage the entire time and they were pleased the entire time.
So was it that Grace Jones was too much for Tobago Jazz, or too little for Tobago Jazz—and that is a question the Tobago Jazz and the THA have to answer as they start planning for their 10 year in anniversary 2018. So all in all I was visually and sonically pleased with the performance and was glad I wasn’t on a boat back to Trinidad.
Grace Jones vs Tobago Jazz
So all in all I was visually and sonically pleased with the performance and was glad I wasn’t on a boat back to Trinidad.