QED sure knows how to keep them coming: don’t fix what does not need fixing. On Sunday 3 June, the trio—QED stands for quite exquisitely done — reprised their successful back-in-times concert production from 2017 as “Remixing the Jam”, exploring popular songs across a range of genres from the 1960s to the present.
Singers Eddie Cumberbatch, Nigel Floyd and Raymond Edwards with their distinctive tenor voices kept a two-thirds capacity Queen’s Hall audience rapt throughout the evening, singing along and cheering at familiar tunes.
That audience was a signifier of the target demographic that these gentlemen have locked into. That generation born before Independence would have come of age when more than half of the song list was then popular; ten songs were hits in the 1960s and 70s. With that specific curation, this concert highlighted more than an evening of fine singing and performance, but a greater acknowledgement of the business of successful concert production where audience satisfaction is paramount. Hits from the songbooks of Gospel, Pop and R&B, Reggae, Dancehall and Calypso and Soca were featured in a tight 90-minute production featuring elegant stage decoration and emotive lighting.
Compartmentalized in those genres, hits ranged from Whitney Houston (I Love the Lord) to the Edwin Hawkins Singers (Oh Happy Day), Bobby Caldwell (What You Won’t Do For Love) to Il Divo (The Man You Love, and Earth Wind & Fire (Fantasy)—Floyd owned Philip Bailey’s falsetto convincingly—to Barry White and Luciano Pavarotti’s take on White’s “You’re The First, The Last, My Everything” from the Pavarotti & Friends for Afghanistan concert back in 2001 to showcase the brilliant voice of Cumberbatch.
A couple guest vocals from the band’s horn section members, Martina Chow on Stevie’s “Don’t You Worry About a Thing”, and Kensa James cover of Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love” provided a bright interlude that allowed for a better understanding of what worked and what did not work. James used the stage well and cheekily, at the end, sang the words …”sweet love, don’t you ever go away,” to her trombone! That relaxed twist was an observable highlight for many and an entertainment counterpoint to the static positioning of the three tenors in their high stools. The observed stiffness in the audience banter and engagement was a feature that these gentlemen would consider overcoming towards a more exciting experience for an audience accustomed to movement and sound.
For the Caribbean genres, Edwards reprised his love for Buju Banton showcased so brilliantly last year with a take on “Wanna Be Loved” that had the audience screaming. Songs by Chronixx (Skankin’ Sweet) and Bob Marley (Three Little Birds) were obvious choices to showcase the singers’ affection for Jamaican indigenous music. Blakie (Steelband Clash), King Austin (Progress), Ras Shorty I (Watch Out My Children) were all handled with the appropriate aplomb concentrating on the calypso lyrics to move the masses towards audience harmony. And with that, the ironic twist of saying goodbye to a happy audience with the singing on Kes The Band’s 2018 tune “Hello” made for an enjoyable evening of song.