Desperadoes Steel Orchestra romped to victory in a keenly-contested Panorama Large Conventional Band encounter on Saturday. It did so by a margin of four points over defending champions, bp Renegades, which shared second place with a resurgent Massy Trinidad All Stars on 282 points.
When the last note was struck by All Stars at 12.02 a.m. on Sunday, few patrons had dared leave their seats in a packed Grand Stand and less-populated Pan City area. Such was the expectation of a tight finish.
Renegades had previously led the pack in the competition, following an intense semi-final round on February 16. All Stars had at that time placed fifth – all of seven points behind the 2018 and 2019 winners.
Threatening at second place at the semi-finals was Republic Bank Exodus which led at the preliminaries but failed to impress the judges on Saturday. The four-time champs ended with a shared seventh place standing with fellow east Trinidad band, First Citizens Supernovas.
The win by Desperadoes brings to 12 the number of Panorama victories for the Port of Spain band with previous wins in 1966, 1970, 1976, 1977, 1983, 1985, 1991, 1994, 1999, 2000 and 2016.
Performing seventh, arranger Carlton “Zanda” Alexander and his charges produced a musical interpretation of More Sokah by Nailah Blackman that left little doubt about the band’s eligibility for a top place, if not a resounding win.
Up for grabs by the 11 finalists were the bp Challenge Trophy and a $1 million first prize.
Defending champion Renegades Steel Orchestra had been in search of its second ever hat trick, this time under the baton of arranger, Duvone Stewart, who turned up both the pyrotechnics and theatre on the evening.
The Finals featured 11 bands playing five songs. Supernovas, 11th placed NLCB Fonclaire and Exodus all played Dear Promoter, a Voice and Kes collaboration.
Sixth place CAL Skiffle, Renegades and RBC Redemption Sound Setters (which placed 10th), played Skinny Banton’s Wrong Again while Desperadoes,T&TEC Tropical Angel Harps (9th) and Trinidad All Stars played More Sokah.
Placing fourth was HADCO Phase 11 Pan Groove playing Len Boogsie Sharpe’s 2020 Vision, as sung by Olatunji Yearwood, while 5th placed Shell Invaders rendered an Arddin Herbert arrangement of Swappi & Ultimate Rejects’ version of Baron’s 1984 hit Feeling It.
The panel of judges included Lambert Phillip, Michele Dowrich, Richard Pierre, Roger Sardinah, Bernadette Roberts and Tommy Crichlow.
Saturday’s Finals brought to an end an unprecedented four months of Panorama related competition starting with the preliminaries in the Single Pan category on November 4.
The competition was jointly won on November 24 by San Juan East Side Symphony and Marsicans Steel Orchestra.
Then came the Small Bands category culminating in the Finals of January 17 won by Uptown Fascinators.
On January 26, it was the turn of the Primary and Secondary Schools, together with Under 21/Non-School bands. Guaico Presbyterian Steel Orchestra won among the primary schools. Bishop Anstey & Trinity College East (B.A.T.C.E.) Steel Orchestra topped the secondary schools and Trinidad All Stars Youth won in the Non-School category.
The Medium Bands competed in their finals for the first time in Tobago on February 16 in a tight competition that brought victory to Couva Joylanders.
Speaking at the opening of Saturday’s finals, Pan Trinbago president Beverly Ramsey-Moore said “we could not celebrate the pan and not take it to Tobago.”
Unlike the semi-final round, there was a more discreet but heavy police presence. The bands also moved along efficiently with an average 20-25 minute wait between contestants and, in most instances, relatively large contingents of dancers, Moko Jumbies and other Carnival characters.