Phase II literally shared licks to all and sundry as the band, led by Keith Serrette and playing in position number 14, performed Len “Boogsie” Sharpe’s arrangement of “Sharing Licks” to the delight of the fans.
The master arranger did not disappoint his loyal subjects. It was 2.15 am when the bright red, yellow and green banner of Phase II hit the stage. The band set up its pans in what could be considered a record and at about 2.25 am, Boogsie gave his members the count. From the introduction of the piece it was sheer magic and by the time four minutes elapsed the south stand was vibrating with loud cheers. People were seen dancing and waving as members of Phase II went on and on digging deep into their resources to find energy at that hour of the morning.
Eight minutes and 19 seconds later, no one in the savannah had any doubt as to which band performed the best in the 15-hour programme.
The 16 band Large Conventional category got off to a start at 8.30 pm with a bright moon rising over the hills in the east. This came after the conclusion of the Medium Conventional category in which Boogsie again took top honours with his arrangement of “Pan Lamentation” for Carib Dixieland of Tobago, to come out on top.
Boogsie outdid Ken “Professor” Philmore whose arrangement of Coleen Ella’s “Johnny” played by Sound Specialist of Laventille placed them in second spot. Excellent Stores Silver Stars placed third with their rendition of Edwin Pouchet’s “Soca is It” while another Tobago band, Katzenjammers placed fourth with their exciting execution of Sydney Joseph’s arrangement of “Pan Lamentation”.
Philmore and TCL Group Skiffle Bunch set the pace in the large band category competition with a “spicy” rendition of Philmore’s arrangement of “Sharing Licks”. The pace set by Skiffle Bunch seemed too much for NLCB Fonclaire who was up next.
Witco Desperadoes played in position three doing an Andre Robley, Curtis Edwards and Robert Greenidge arrangement of “Band From Space,” their performance was not of the usual Desperadoes standard, leaving room for improvement.
ECU Pamberi (Band From Space) and Petrotrin Hatters (Pan Music Sweet) did not stir the audience and it was not until 10.50 pm when PCS Starlift’s performance of Ray Holman’s “We Can’t go on Like This” that the audience got involved. Holman’s treatment of his own composition and the sight of Keith “Designer” Prescott’s waving flag solicited a loud applause from the audience.
Tropical Angel Harps from Central Trinidad treated Clarence Morris’ arrangement of “Pan Lamentation” with some degree of discipline and their lively performance placed them in good stead with the judges.
As midnight approached, Neal and Massy Trinidad All Stars came on stage, brimming with confidence and the players approached Leon “Smooth” Edward’s arrangement of De Fosto’s “Pan Lamentation” with style and flair. The composer himself was in the audience “miming” every note of the arrangement. When All Stars was finished the band received a standing ovation.
Solo Pan Knights presented a very clean and clear version of Duvonne Stewart’s “Can’t Get Enough” while bpTT Renegades gave a spirited rendition of Dr Jit Samaroo’s “Band From Space”. At 12.55 am, Caribbean Airlines Invaders together with arranger Arddin Herbert performed an exciting version of “Pan Lamentation”. Then came RBTT Redemption Sound Setters with “Pan Lamentation” and Birdsong “Sharing Licks”, though both songs were well played, they did not have the impact to move the audience at that hour in the morning.
At about 2.50 am, the final band, B Mobile Our Boys from Tobago came on stage. With manager Patrick Arnold (Pan Trinbago president) sitting in the front row they proceeded with Roger Sardinha’s arrangement of “Soca Is it”.
One noticeable change during the day was the lack of supporters pushing pans on stage. The security did not allow anyone but the players to go through the gate with the pan.
Edward Hart, Minister in the Ministry of Community Development Culture and Gender Affairs was incensed when he found out the supporters were not allowed to push the pans on stage.
In the end, only one band from the South/Central region in both categories made it to the final which will be held at Skinner Park, San Fernando on Carnival Saturday.
The bands making it to the final round in both the medium and large categories are as follows.
1. Carib Dixieland
2. Courts Sound Specialist of Laventille
3. Excellent Stores Silver Stars
5. CLICO Sforzata
7. Lee Chong Pan Glow
8. Arima Angel Harps
1. HCL Phase II Pan Groove
2. N&M Trinidad All Stars
3. Sagicor Exodus
4. Tropical Angel Harps
5. Caribbean Airlines Invaders
6. PCS Starlift
7. bpTT Renegades
8. Witco Desperadoes