One of the largest crowds in the history of the Soca Monarch turned up to see a battle royale among the top contenders but it was Montano in his first appearance in the competition since 1996 that was crowned the new king of soca ahead of crowd-favourite Neil “Iwer” George who placed second with his mega-hit “Come to Meh” while Bunji Garlin, singing “Hold a Burn” finished third.
Montano, performing at position number nine, made a majestic appearance on stage, descending from the overhead scaffolding on a harness, stomping a character depicting “The Incredible Hulk” and in the process proving his soca rivals were no match for him.
The 35-year-old delved straight into his 2011 hit “Advantage”, whipping the crowd in a frenzy with his back-up dancers also hooked up to harnesses and being lifted off the ground temporarily and stomping back down onto the stage. Montano, in an all-black suit a la Michael Jackson, re-created a Carnival Monday and Tuesday atmosphere, no doubt preparing his fans and mas players for the revelry of crossing the stage and encouraged them to “trample it, stamp on it, jump on it”.
The soca veteran had to utilise all his experience to sway a pro-Iwer George crowd to his beat, dedicating three freestyle verses to his main rivals Destra, Iwer, and the husband and wife pair of Fay Ann Lyons and Bunji Garlin. Montano demonstrated his lyrical prowess, chiding his rivals and with the latter verse sending the crowd hysterical while implying Fay-Ann wears the pants in her relationship with Bunji, saying “like she is the man and you the woman”.
Montano left the crowd in full swing eating out of his hands but as soon as he left the stage they were shouting “Iwer, Iwer”.
The Soca Monarch runner-up would be very disappointed with his final placing having received the best crowd response by a performer for the night. After missing last year’s event because of illness, the Point Fortin resident came all-out to capture the crown.
As soon as ironically Grenadian performer Tallpree left the stage, the crowd called for “The Boss” and were given instructions to look to the sky. “Iwer”, in a model plane connected to a crane came “flying in” from Grenada and landed on the Soca Monarch stage much to the approval of the crowd, all in awe at his impressive entrance.
“Iwer” proceeded to literally send the Hasely Crawford Stadium crowd wild with delight singing word for word his popular ‘Come to Meh’. Accompanied by a large number of ‘jab jab’ and ‘devils’, “Iwer” told the jam- packed stadium that he has always been criticised but remains the people’s champ as “every time they hear my voice the people know is Carnival again”.
In closing, “Iwer” changed the lyrics to his song, saying “he would not stop sing soca and go and live in Grenada” but stay in Trinidad.
For several minutes after leaving the stage on his airplane, the crowd enthusiastically chanted his name, giving their take on who should take the title.
The third-placed Bunji, performing, in 12th position, fired back at Montano as the heat in the Soca Monarch intensified. Bunji, known for his spontaneous lyrical skills told Montano to ‘Hold a Burn’ as the race for the $2 million prize ignited.
Bunji, the self-proclaimed “fireman”, waded into his detractors one by one but did give credit to Iwer’s performance, calling on those who felt he would win to put one hand in the air. He concluded, however, by saying those who believed his wife would be crowned Soca Monarch champion to put both hands towards the sky.
Fay-Ann, performing last, was only good enough for fourth-place, however, and was unable to draw a massive crowd response as is usual partly because several fights broke out prior and during her performance.
Singing ‘Mash-up’, she brought out her ‘Mash-Up army’ of ‘riot police’ on stage to assist her in destroying her competitors.
Other notable performances came from “Shal Marshall”, dressed in full military uniform singing ‘Doh drag d Flag’. “Shal”, with his face painted in national colours called for patriotism and released a dove on stage which drew applause from his fans.
St Vincent’s “Skinny Fabulous” injected a jolt of energy in the Power category with ‘Charge Up’ and was undoubtedly the most impressive foreign entertainer for the night.
Defending champions “JW and Blaze” opened the show and although acknowledging they were not going to win in 2011 they gave an energetic account of themselves and even sang a chorus of last year’s winning song ‘Palance’.
Although being hailed as one of the best Soca Monarch finals ever, there were several complaints by patrons who were packed in like sardines in the general section. The show had to be stopped for several minutes as the announcer asked patrons to move from the standing area on the field to the seating section so as to avoid any possible incidents of trampling. Patrons also complained of not enough disposable toilets and many males relived themselves wherever they could. There were several fights throughout the night as well as incidents of persons being pick-pocketed.