Brand Man­ag­er GM Labs

So­ca King­dom, 40 Years of MM, was the first ever head­lin­ing so­ca con­cert to take place at Brook­lyn’s Bar­clays Cen­ter. The sold-out con­cert on Mon­day Sep­tem­ber 5th was a cel­e­bra­tion of Machel’s 40 years in the mu­sic busi­ness.

The mo­ment our Uber pulled on­to Flat­bush Av­enue, in the vicin­i­ty of the Bar­clays Cen­ter, a great sense of Caribbean pride came over me. The lines of peo­ple sur­round­ing the venue, clad in their re­spec­tive na­tion­al colours, was a sight un­like any oth­er. Vi­bran­cy and ex­cite­ment filled the air as pa­trons ea­ger­ly await­ed the 7pm venue en­try.

Up­on en­try in­to the au­di­to­ri­um DJs en­gaged pa­trons with mas­ter­ful mix­es of so­ca, ca­lyp­so, reg­gae and oth­er mu­sic gen­res.

A cross-section of the crowd at Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, for Machel Montano’s concert.

A cross-section of the crowd at Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, for Machel Montano’s concert.

Anil Mathi & SWL Entertainment

At pre­cise­ly 8:30pm the mu­sic stopped and the house lights were turned off…. the sounds of a conch shell could be heard in the crowd. All eyes turned to the stage, the high-pitched rhyth­mic whis­tles pierced the air, was a mid­night rob­ber about to grace the stage? No, these mar­vel­lous, nos­tal­gic sounds tran­scend­ed the are­na, be­cause it was filled to ca­pac­i­ty with Caribbean peo­ple and peo­ple with a love for our cul­ture.

The dark­ened are­na was il­lu­mi­nat­ed by a video mon­tage show­cas­ing the time­line of Machel Mon­tano’s ca­reer from 1982 to present. Those in at­ten­dance were treat­ed to key high­lights of Machel’s forty years in the in­dus­try, fol­lowed by his jour­ney to the Bar­clays Cen­ter in a self-dri­ving Tes­la with cus­tom MM- 40 plates.

Mon­tano’s en­try on­to the stage was framed by his “MONK Dancers” and fea­tured a high en­er­gy open­ing per­for­mance of the hit sin­gle Hap­pi Pa­pi. The dancers flaunt­ed their moves in black and white en­sem­bles by TT de­sign­er Rhion Ro­many.

An erup­tion of screams, singing and a sea of colour fol­lowed, it seemed that every pa­tron in at­ten­dance wield­ed some ver­sion of a Caribbean flag.

The King of So­ca pumped the are­na with en­er­gy, his per­for­mance of Dr. Mashup lit­er­al­ly moved the crowd, as pa­trons du­ti­ful­ly fol­lowed the in­struc­tions of the song lyrics; “to the left, to the left to the left” and then “to the right, to the right, to the right”. Sim­i­lar re­ac­tions were brought for­ward with Machel’s per­for­mances of Toro Toro, Big Truck, High­er than High and many oth­ers.

Superblue also joined Montano at the Labour Day event.

Superblue also joined Montano at the Labour Day event.

Anil Mathi & SWL Entertainment

The crowd nev­er stopped singing and by an hour in­to the con­cert Machel was af­fec­tion­ate­ly re­fer­ring to the pa­trons as “Bar­clays’ choir” and teased ask­ing “Are you tired?” when the vol­ume of the singing dropped in the slight­est.

The night fea­tured high en­er­gy per­for­mances from Mon­tano and nu­mer­ous artists in­clud­ing Patrice Roberts, Bun­ji Gar­lin, Fay-Ann Lyons, Lyrikal, Mot­to, Farmer Nap­py, Skin­ny Fab­u­lous, Lil Rick, Na­dia Bat­son, Ker­win Du Bois, Prob­lem Child, Lil Nat­ty & Thun­da, Voice and sur­prise per­for­mances by Wyclef Jean, Walk­er, An­gela Hunte, and Ding Dong Ravers.

Tar­rus Ri­ley, along­side Dean Fras­er, al­so made a spe­cial ap­pear­ance and moved the crowd with their per­for­mance of ‘Mem­o­ry’ the 2016 so­ca hit. The love and uni­ty could be felt in the heart and soul of all in at­ten­dance. Machel did not let this mo­men­tous oc­ca­sion pass with­out pay­ing trib­ute to his moth­er. Dur­ing the Tar­rus Ri­ley set, he ded­i­cat­ed the She’s Roy­al track to his moth­er, “The Ul­ti­mate In­sid­er” af­fec­tion­ate­ly known as “La­dy” Mon­tano. Thank­ing her for her con­tri­bu­tion to his ca­reer, and join­ing in the ser­e­nade with the reg­gae singer.

The en­er­gy of the crowd and per­for­mances were un­par­al­leled, the night cul­mi­nat­ed by Machel wel­com­ing Su­per Blue on­to the stage, to close the show with a mov­ing per­for­mance of So­ca King­dom. In a mo­ment of pure grat­i­tude and ap­pre­ci­a­tion on stage, Machel said “Ladies and Gen­tle­men. I want you to know this, we tried to sell out Bar­clays Sta­di­um four days ago. At four o’clock this af­ter­noon we had 63 tick­ets left, no lie. And then all of a sud­den, the app said SOLD OUT 100%.”

Soca songstress Faye-Ann Lyons-Alvarez on stage.

Soca songstress Faye-Ann Lyons-Alvarez on stage.

Anil Mathi & SWL Entertainment

With the in­stru­men­tal of So­ca King­dom play­ing in the back­ground, Machel thanked his man­ag­er, band, dancers, sound crew, pro­mot­ers and his fam­i­ly, but stat­ed, “Most im­por­tant­ly I want to thank you, the fans, the peo­ple! All the artists up here to­day, I re­spect. I’m cel­e­brat­ing 40 years, but it’s all about them… those who came and those who will come.”

He not­ed that when the app said 100%, he was faced with a prob­lem, “we had too many peo­ple still want­i­ng to come. So, af­ter we hit 100%, we were able to sell 500 more tick­ets.” Screams of fans erupt­ed, in a pore rais­ing vo­cal­iza­tion of the fans’ ap­pre­ci­a­tion.

Ges­tur­ing to ‘nose­bleed’ seats on the left and right of the are­na Machel said “We put peo­ple here, we put peo­ple there, we put peo­ple where we didn’t re­al­ly want to put peo­ple! But I just want to let you know how grate­ful I am to every­body! Thank You for mak­ing this dream come true!”

With the sound of Su­per Blue’s voice echo­ing “put yuh hand in the air” and the rum­bling of drums and build­ing of chords of the MM band, the night came to an end with the most mov­ing ren­di­tion of ‘So­ca King­dom’ that I have ex­pe­ri­enced to date, sur­round­ed by fel­low Caribbean peo­ple, moved to the core by what seemed like a glimpse of a unit­ed Caribbean peo­ple.

Montano is joined backstage by his mother Liz Montano (left) and his children.

Montano is joined backstage by his mother Liz Montano (left) and his children.

Anil Mathi & SWL Entertainment

At the end of the show, one pa­tron made his way to Eliz­a­beth “La­dy” Mon­tano and shook her hand say­ing, “Thank you for all you did to cre­ate the leg­end that is Machel Mon­tano”. An­oth­er pa­tron, Wil Evans com­ment­ed, “Machel threw a well-chore­o­graphed show, it was well re­ceived by the packed-out are­na, we need­ed this!”

Un­known to the fans that filled the are­na just pri­or to show­time, Machel Mon­tano was pre­sent­ed with a City of NY cer­tifi­cate of recog­ni­tion & procla­ma­tion, which read:

On the oc­ca­sion of So­ca King­dom, in cel­e­bra­tion of his 40 years in the mu­sic in­dus­try. The pow­er of mu­sic and the arts cross­es cul­tures and bor­ders, unit­ing peo­ple of all back­grounds, and fos­ter­ing strong ties through­out our glob­al com­mu­ni­ty. Born in 1974 in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Machel made his mu­si­cal de­but in 1982, at age sev­en. In 1984, he per­formed at the for­mer Felt Fo­rum in Man­hat­tan’s Madi­son Square Gar­den and re­leased his de­but al­bum, “Too Young to So­ca” the fol­low­ing year. Machel has re­ceived mul­ti­ple ac­co­lades through­out his dec­o­rat­ed ca­reer, in­clud­ing a nom­i­na­tion for Best In­ter­na­tion­al per­for­mance at the 2013 Soul Train Awards and mul­ti­ple nom­i­na­tions at the 2013 Gram­my awards. I am proud to ap­plaud Machel for his ded­i­ca­tion to spread­ing love and up­lift­ing oth­ers through the trans­for­ma­tive pow­er of the en­dur­ing genre of So­ca- Er­ic Adams, May­or, Sep­tem­ber 5, 2022.



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