Notting Hill Carnival London

Carnival is not all drinking Special Brew and being cheeky to policemen. Some people have to work, and hard. Surrounding carnival, a network of concerts, jams, and miscellaneous jollification brings a couple of dozen of the Caribbean's top soca entertainers to London in August, on a circuit which includes the major Caribbean cities of Canada and continues back via New York for Labor Day celebrations.

Around 3am on carnival Monday, Austin Lyons, aka Superblue, a Trinidadian former fisherman recycled via his massive 1991 hit "Get Something and Wave" into the island's biggest dance star, was to be found waiting backstage at the UN Club in Tottenham, three hours late to perform. On stage, the Barbadian soca-rock fusion group Kross Fyah thumped out numbers such as "Oba Dele", the ode to a Barbadian runner which won Road March of '95 in the island's carnival equivalent and launched Kross Fyah as stars throughout the region. A heaving mass of teenage sirens in white-laced tights pumped their groins concentratedly and blew foghorns. Superblue and his group, the Love Band, readied themselves for their '96 Trinidad carnival hit "Bounce", in praise of a selection of resilient celebrities from Muhammad Ali to the Muppets. We all linked hands, said a prayer ending with the phrase "The word is soca, amen!" And then waited some more. I left at 4am, pleading a luncheon engagement with a carnival float. Blue apparently performed at 5am, but still wowed them.

Notting Hill is not the place to see the scurrilous, social commentary function still a part of calypso and soca - "jump up and wave something in the air" lyrics predominate, which can get boring. On the other hand, a greater range of individual islands' sounds is getting to be represented, challenging the Trinidadian domination.

The 10-piece St Lucia orchestra Reasons was around town, demonstrating their mix of French Antillean zouk and soca. I caught them in a colourful but staid show at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, struggling doggedly with a small audience of besuited coffee-drinking anti-revellers, before they headed off to the Elite Night Club, formerly Dougies, in Hackney, for a rather more animated gig. Another Franco-English island, Dominica, was represented by the quartet WCK, who purveyed their own zouk mix around clubs in Southall and Hackney.

The emerging soca nation par excellence, though, is Barbados, which sent not only Kross Fyah but top calypsonians Gabby, Red Plastic Bag and Mac Fingall, author of one of the chief hits of this carnival, Big Belly Man ("I ain't dancing with no big belly man... I want a bony man..."). RPB, as he's known, and Fingall put on a great double act for a Dragon stout-swigging Barbadian audience in a Wembley school hall on Saturday, achieving a level of audience participation that would have had the majority of the world's entertainers green with envy.

Superblue, by the way, left for Trinidad "pissed off" with being kept hanging about, but professional to the end.

PHILIP SWEENEY

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
premier league
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
people'I hated him during those times'
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
News
i100
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
News
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

    £70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Level 3 Nursery Nurse required for ...

    Nursery Nurse

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: L3 Nursery Nurses urgently required...

    SEN Teaching Assistant

    Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: We have a number of schools based S...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam