Results at a glance:
- 1st Delroy “Fireman Hooper” — “Wild”
- 2nd Hance John — “Jab”
- 3rd Shane “Hyper 4000” Husbands — “Riddim Section”
- 4th Ryan “Royall” Abraham — “Upfull” and Fya Empress — “Country Meets Town”
After a disappointing performance that saw him placing third in 2016, Delroy “Fireman” Hooper put on a show Saturday night that showed why he is one of the nation’s most successful and loved soca artistes.
In the process, Fireman unseated last year’s monarch, Shane “Hyper 4000” Husbands, sending him and his “Riddim Section” into third place in a reversal of the 2016 placements.
Fireman had already had eight Soca Monarch crowns in the bag as he went into Saturday night’s show.
And from the start of his performance at position number 10 among the 13 competitors, it was clear that none of the artistes who had gone before had surpassed him.
There was also nothing, in terms of their past experience and performances, to suggest that any of the three artistes who were to follow him had what it takes to quench the Fireman.
Patrons were settled in their minds that Fireman had done it once again and the announcement of the results shortly after 5 a.m. Sunday was merely a formality and to confirm who had taken the other top positions.
Fireman put on an energetic show as he sang his song, “Wild”, in a show in which artistes returned to actual singing in an attempt to move the crowd rather than the high tech gadgetry — including pyrotechnics — that had become a feature of the event over the past few years.
In fact, Fireman’s main props were all natural: branches and leaves — and at least one bunch of green banana, though this might have been the doing of an extremely exuberant fan.
Before the artiste was announced, his assistant began passing out branches to patrons, while members of the Fireman team positioned themselves, branches in hand, among the media well at the front of the stage.
The effect was to transform “Carnival City”, Victoria Park, into a veritable forest during his performance.
The artiste was bareback and wore a grass skirt, with a bamboo quiver over his back.
Patrons responded to his commands, moving the “forest” left, right or centre.
In a post-show interview, the artiste told iWitness News that winning his ninth Soca Monarch feels the “same like before.
“The crowns are not for me. They are for my fans,” he said.
He told iWitness News that the reaction of the crowd, even before he appeared on stage, was pure love.
“That’s what love is. That’s what love is. That’s what love is. They love me,” said Fireman, who is a resident of the North Leeward village of Petit Bordel.
Fireman and Roses Crew have been credited with transforming the soca arena in St. Vincent and the Grenadines after they came on the scene in the late 1990s.
However, since then, the Soca Monarch competition has soared to a whole new level and has seen artistes using jetpacks, flame throwers, zip lines, and even a helicopter at the venue in an attempt to win the show.
But this year’s show did not include much of those shenanigans, with the most “extravagant” prop arguably being the use of fireworks.
Asked why he thinks that artistes have moved away from such extravagance this year, Fireman told iWitness News, “Some things are better not said.”
He added: “I started it low and made it happen and then for some people to get to other things, they had to get into their whole Hollywood kind of thing. It was good and exciting but the judges don’t judge that. The judges judge your song.”
Fireman said that he did not go back to the drawing board after last year’s performance that saw him placing third behind Hypa 4000 and Travis “Wiz Skid” Lynch.
Hypa 4000 had won the crown for the first time with a performance that had the signature of Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle — Fireman’s erstwhile soca nemesis –written all over it.
After the show, a conspiracy theory had emerged that Skinny, who retired from the soca monarch competition the previous year, had teamed up with Hypa 4000 in an attempt to ensure that Fireman did not win.
Asked after his crowning on Sunday if he had gone back to the drawing board after last year’s performance, Fireman told iWitness News no.
He further said that he did nothing differently this year.
“They never listened to the song,” he said of last year’s composition, “Homeless”.
Fireman was also in winner’s row in the Ragga Soca Monarch competition.
He and Kalid “Kavides” Walters placed third with their song “All Day”.
2017 was also a good year for Hance John, who placed second in the soca monarch show. After a number of years of trying, the artiste, who won four crowns, including a hat trick, in the junior soca monarch competition, also won the Ragga Soca Crown on Saturday.
(Visit our Facebook Page for video clips of each artiste’s performance.)