Machel Montano kissed his bride Renee Butcher in front of thousands of screaming fans after the two had a second wedding ceremony at his Machel Monday concert at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain.
The couple, who officially married on Valentine’s Day last Friday at the newly refurbished Red House in Port of Spain, staged an artistic re-reading of vows at the tenth and final edition of the famous concert series, aptly entitled “The Wedding”.
Seventh Day Adventist Pastor Clive Dottin was the officiant at the elaborate all-white ceremony designed by legendary masman Peter Minshall.
The presentation included African and East Indian dancers, traditional Carnival characters and vintage costuming.
“I call upon these persons here present to witness that I, Machel Jesus Montano, do take you, Renee Latoya Theresa Butcher, to be my lawfully wedded wife to have and to hold for richer or poorer,” Machel repeated after Dottin while his mother, Elizabeth, stood wiping her tears of joy at his side.
The charismatic soca star blushed through Dottin’s additional vows, repeating: “I want you to be the hibiscus flower in my garden, the diamond in the landscape of my heart and the wind beneath my wings.”
The vulnerable moment brought a deafening hush to the noisy venue of thousands of fans who had filled the football field and large sections of the stadium’s stands to be a part of the historic moment.
They soon found their voice, however, when Dottin asked the blushing bride to repeat her special vows for Machel.
“You want me to be your hibiscus? Well I want you to be my mahogany tree. The waterfall with love gushing from the fountain of my heart,” Butcher shyly repeated.
The cheers and screams of approval were deafening when Dottin made his official declaration moments later.
“I as a minister of the gospel and based on the authority invested in me by the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago do pronounce you man and wife. What God has put together let no man put asunder,” Dottin recited to loud cheers.
Repositioning himself from behind the couple for a better view at stagefront, Dottin continued: “Ah want to come and see this for mehself. You may kiss the bride.”
Machel kissed and dipped his bride during a long passionate embrace that had Dottin begging him to “leave some for later”.
Hundreds of couples in the audience then joined the first couple of soca in their first dance to American jazz legend Ella Fitzgerald’s “At Last”.
A changed man
Earlier, Machel told his adoring fans he was now a changed man when he paused for them to take a breath following a high energy opening that included his road march hits “Waiting on the Stage”, “Ministry of Road”, “Big Truck”, “Advantage” and “Like A Boss”.
“I’m a changed man, imagine that, me. If I could change, anybody could change,” he said to muted cheers.
Soca’s biggest star then encouraged the men in the audience in long-standing relationships to do the honourable thing and set a date.
“It have any married people in here? It have anybody thinking about getting married? It have any single women in here? Fellas do the right thing. Single ladies scream,” he urged, inspiring several hundred screams from women in the crowd.
Machel brought with him musical friends from both afar and near to share in his wedding day.
Nigerian banku star Mr Eazi (Oluwatosin Ajibade), British DJ/singer Afro B (Ross-Emmanuel Bayeto), Jamaican reggae star Tarrus Riley (Omar Riley) and dancehall sensation Konshens (Garfield Spence) were all part of a series of star-studded cameos in the opening half of the show.
American iconic producer/singer Teddy Riley, R&B group Blackstreet and disco/funk trio Shalamar also appeared alongside the soca Monk. The three acts may have ruled US music charts two and three decades ago, but the 80s and 90s looked a lifetime away on Monday.
The American veterans, however, failed to connect with the contemporary soca audience, most of whom used their stage time to refill their cups.
A surprise appearance by US rap music legend Doug E Fresh did go some way in offering a reprieve for his countrymen, however.
Doug E entertained the dwindled audience stage front with his impressive beat box skills before joining Machel for a performance of their 2006 hit “We Not Giving Up”.
St Lucian soca star Motto (Lashley Winter), Vincentian Problem Child (Johnny Fontainne), New York-based Lyrikal (Devon Martin), Toronto-based Kerwin Du Bois, Voice (Aaron St Louis) and Salty all had their moments on stage.
Chutney queen Drupatee Ragoonai had perhaps the most memorable exchange with Machel on stage during a clock-turning performance of their 2000 hit “Real Unity”.
Makin a Melé
Machel also gave some insight into what is to follow the MM era with the announcement that he will be collaborating with Tribe mas band to take his stage show to the sea in 2021 at an event called Melé.
Melé would see Double M and Tribe go head to head with the popular Ubersoca and Soca on the Seas for command of soca on the high seas.
“Imagine you are on the shore. Machel Monday is the shore and you are going out to the sea ... launching into water. I am taking this from the land and heading to sea,” he said to the opening notes of his 2000 hit “Water Flowing”.
“Are you ready to go with me? We are going on the water with the greatest Carnival band, we leaving land and for the first time we are going on the sea. Call down the water,” he said as a light drizzle descended right on cue.
The cruise is expected to take place either in April or May of 2021 and will sail from Florida for four nights. Registration for the cruise will open at noon on March 1.
Machel, meanwhile, ended the night on a high with a high-energy series of performances that featured Iwer George (Neil George) and Vincentian Skinny Fabulous (Gamal Doyle) with their popular “Conchshell” before leaving the The Boss, as Iwer is known, to test the integrity of the stadium stage with his Road March contender “Stage Gone Bad”.