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Afrigo’s goldies still outshine new album

Afrigo Band’s Herman Ssewanyana on the drums with singer Kenneth Mugabi. PHOTO BY EDGAR R. BATTE

Afrigo Band is undisputedly Uganda’s most celebrated music group. They have performed together for more than 40 years and in many of those, they have not released new music. They last released a new album about 20 years ago.
Last Friday the band hosted their fans at Hotel Africana as they launched their newest project Teri Mubi and for many of their patrons that have always flocked their various shows, it was time to listen to songs they were not familiar with.
For a band that has been around since the 70s, they wanted to give their fans a glance of what the future has in stock for Ugandan music. They kicked off with Kenneth Mugabi as the sole curtainraiser.
Famed for his soulful performances, he did not disappoint, he showed up with a guitar and dived into ‘Kibunomu‘, the lead song off his debut album of the same name.

Joanita Kawalya and Moses Matovu on stage. PHOTO BY EDGAR R. BATTE

He would later impress with ‘Nkwegomba‘ and the audience’s favourite, ‘Naki‘. What made this performance different was Afrigo Band, who redefined each Kenneth Mugabi song. Not only did they sound unique but also fresh — they were an experience.
Afrigo Band kicked off their performance with Afrigo Batuuse, a song that got their audience energised.
But the problem with most Ugandan shows is the commercial classism; the most passionate fans are usually not even part of the VIP section, they are far off, dancing and singing along.
Generally being the life of the parte, as the VIP section enjoys their whiskey and tweet away.
It was the same case at this show. The people that sat the furthest were dancing, screaming and having fun from the beginning, too bad that their Shs100,000 entrance fee was not enough to get them closer to the real experience.

Unveiling Teri Mubi
Afrigo Band announced their new album, Teri Mubi at the beginning of September and immediately availed it for streaming and download, exclusively on Tidal.
At the launch, the task was to perform many of these songs to an audience that has been fed with a different set for more than 40 years. This became the shows biggest undoing; for more than two hours, they performed songs people could not sing along to, they were not necessarily different from what people grew up listening to, they lacked the nostalgia that comes with ‘Jim’, ‘Obangaina’, ‘Baba wa Toto’ and ‘Maria‘.
These were songs many people had never listened to that many sat through the biggest part of the show; of course Teri Mubi featuring Jose Chameleone is an outstanding one, even when you are a first time listener and it was not surprising that it was the only song from the album people asked an encore for.
The night picked itself up eventually when they played people’s requests and that is when the floor was filled, proving that even when the new album could be brilliant, it is the memories, the goldies that their audience still cherish.

akaggwa@ug.nationmedia.com

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