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Masqueraders, spectators and even politicians chanted “Super, Super, Super” all day long on Carnival Tuesday to the undisputed High Priest of Soca, Austin “SuperBlue” Lyons’ runaway hit “Fantastic Friday”, setting him on course to a historic ninth victory in the Road March race.
The people did not need to wait for official results, which the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians Organisation is due to announce later today, for their choice was clear from the time Carnival bands began crossing judging venues across Port-of-Spain and San Fernando.
Lyons, who sat as a spectator to view the Parade of the Bands at the mecca of mas, the Queen’s Park Savannah, felt optimistic that victory would be his once more, crowning a redemptive return to Carnival after a 13-year hiatus.
“I have a fantastic feeling that I am going to win the road march,” Lyons, 56, told Newsday, viewing the parade of masqueraders from the VIP section of the Grand Stand in the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Lyons spent most of the day relaxing with family and friends including his son, Raymond Lyons and daughter-in-law, Rena.
“I am feeling good. The love and acceptance being shown to me is overwhelming,” he said.
The lifting lyrics of “Fantastic Friday” which gives thanks and praise has been the people’s favourite since Lyons’ announced his return to compete for the soca monarchy.
“Alle.. Alleluia,” he sings, using Christian praises in a song that transcends its topic, the celebration of Carnival Friday, (Fantastic Friday) the day of the battle for the Soca Monarch crown, and of the festival itself, to become an expression of patriotism. Everywhere one went, “the bouncing start, the bouncing start” boomed from massive speaker boxes of the music trucks accompanying bands.
“Super, Super”, masqueraders in YUMA’s band Imagine spontaneously chanted, echoing the song’s opening refrain.
“Water and power,” they sang along to Lyons’ opening lines, as they chipped down Ariapita Avenue to the song’s infectious rhythm.
As Carnival wound down last evening, it was unlikely that Lyons would have to share the Road March spoils, as he did with soca’s young prince Machel Montano, 38, who dominated the soca kingdom in the decade of Lyons’ absence, at the International Soca Monarch title when judges declared them joint winners last Carnival Friday.
At the soca finals, it was clear that Lyons was the crowd favourite, and they again showed he was their choice for “Fantastic Tuesday”.
“Blue beat Machel by about 200 million miles,” a spectator declared in downtown Port-of-Spain.
Montano’s “Float” could not seem to get a foothold at parade venues as deejays even played some of SuperBlue’s classic hits such as “Wine on something (Jab Jab)” and “Signal to Lara”.
The prevailing view among many was that Montano would lose his title, which he held for the last two years, to Lyons.
Government and Opposition leaders also weighed in on the debate, with most picking Lyons for their road march.
In a post on his Facebook page yesterday, Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley declared, “The bouncing start!”
Government Chief Whip and Housing Minister Dr Roodal Moonilal told Newsday, “I think SuperBlue will run away with Road March.”
By Newsday’s count, “Fantastic Friday” was played 36 times at Queen’s Park Savannah between 3.30 pm to 6.30 pm, while “Float” mustered four plays.
Montano’s “Fog”, with which he won the Groovy Monarch crown, got one play, while Blaxx’s “Let Go” was heard three times.
“Fantastic Friday”, Lyons told Newsday, had been on his mind since the Soca Warriors footbal team made their journey in 2006 to Germany for the World Cup. It only came to fruition after his adviser, Gregory Fernandes, “solved the puzzle.” Lyons did not want to say what that puzzle was. From the radio airwaves, the dominance of “Fantastic Friday” continued on Carnival (Super) Saturday on the road with the start of the Kiddies Carnival. On Carnival Sunday, it was the song that was played by most of the bands at South Quay for the South Port-of-Spain Community Council’s Children’s Carnival Competition, and again on Carnival Monday at the seniors Parade of Bands at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
Fernandes told Newsday that as soon as Lyons arrived near Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday and tried to cross the road to get into the stands, “all the ladies in a band mobbed him.”
“Everyone is wishing him well. One of his old time friends cried when, on the road, he reunited with Super,” he said.
Everywhere, he said that people wanted to take photos of Lyons, either individually or in groups. Lyons, he said was only too willing to oblige.
Fernandez said since Lyons jointly crowned the Soca Monarch, crown the team that worked all season with him has been “feeling good”.
The team included well-known Carnival personalities, master masman Peter Minshall, bandleader Michael “Big Mike” Antoine, and 3Canal band members, Wendell Manwarren, Stanton Kewley and Roger Roberts who provided vocals in the recording of “Fantastic Friday” and backed Lyons in the semi-finals at the Arima Velodrome and Hasely Crawford Stadium.
A number of others worked with Lyons in the background, guiding and counselling him on his return journey to the soca monarchy and as the Road March King.