“In accordance with the New York State guidelines in consultation with our medical advisors, we have implemented protocols to enhance safety for all staff, artistes and guests…,” advised the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, situated at 10 Lincoln Center Plaza, New York, within Manhattan.
In reopening their spaces for “free outdoor concerts from Summer 2021,” their Restart Stages’ slate of activities included the Mighty Sparrow Live Concert, on August 4.
“The 20th century’s most famous performer of Calypso music comes to #Restartstages! Trinidadian Calypso King and inimitable vocalist and storyteller brings the Caribbean Island fire to Lincoln Center for a career-spanning set of songs,” advertised the Lincoln Centre of the man passionately called the Birdie in T&T.
Streamed live on YouTube and Vimeo from 8 pm, senior director of artistic programmes at Lincoln Center, Jordana Leigh, launched the 85-minute event by first thanking the US Embassy and Consulate of T&T for helping promote the concert, and stating of the Mighty Sparrow: “We have had the honour of presenting Sparrow before, having done so at the centre and across campuses, and it is my personal honour to present him tonight.
“He’s a legend and an icon, and we’ve been thinking of how to bring the arts back to New York City. How do we bring life back; how do we bring culture back. We said, we must present the Mighty Sparrow.”
She then engaged the audience in welcoming him back to the Lincoln Center “the reigning Calypso King.”
A vibrant Sparrow was then ushered on stage in a wheelchair to a standing ovation, lusty applause and bellowing cheers, subsequently being seated on his performing throne behind his music sheet.
While waiting for the vibrantly supportive audience to settle, to a lone distant voice that shouted The Mighty Sparrow from amongst, he replied: “Aye aye, what’s up with you?” evoking loud laughter.
He then introduced himself. “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re ready now. May I present for your better entertainment here, the supreme reigning Calypso King of the World. And you know who that guy is?”
With the audience eating out his hands, raising them to their feet in conga-line fashion, with some hands raised, the King did tell stories while introducing certain songs.
The audience heard that “no money, no love is really romance without finance is a bloody nuisance”; the two white women who were travelling through Africa; his two favourite girls; men’s favourite.
Closing with Jean and Dinah, the repertoire also included: Mr Walker, Melda, Saltfish, Bag Ah Sugar, Sparrow Dead, Bois Bande, Sa Sa Ay, Mae Mae, No Money No Love, Pussy Cat, Congo Man, and Obeah Wedding.
Asserting that he just loves this music, and wishes he were young again, to the strains of the background Lavway music, played by the accompanying band as led by Lane Steinberg, the audience responded to the King’s beckoning to sing the chorus, “younger” in response to his hook-line, “Ah wish ah was.”
Other band members were: Dave Foster, Charly Roth, Phillip Nichols, Tom Shad, Tommy DeVito, Buford O’Sullivan, Jeff Hudgins, Pam Flemming with chorus, Rembert Block and Erica Smith.
Among a long list, the Lincoln Center thanked: Newground Entertainments, Audrey and Martin Gruss Discovery Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation-Lincoln Centre Agora Initiative, Walker Beard, Audio Inc, Worldstage Inc, United Staging and Rigging and Iatse Local 1 for helping bring the King to its stage once more.