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Maxi Priest drives Ugandans to the Wild World



Maxi Priest (L) with one of his guitarist. Photos by Abubaker Lubowa

Some guys have all the luck. There is some truth in that statement that is also a title of one of the songs performed by Maxi Priest at the annual Nile Gold Jazz and Soul Safari on Saturday. But then it could also describe how lucky the British reggae star of Jamaican is.

Very few international entertainers have stepped on a Ugandan stage and received the kind of love that Maxi Priest did get. Yes, he is that lucky that his two-hour performance had Ugandan revelers in their thousands dance and sing along nonstop, without care.

Before jazz and soul lovers got a chance to watch Maxi Priest live, other entertainers had already lit up the gigantic stage at the Lugogo Cricket Oval. The Safari organisers had promised an ‘indoor feel outside’.


Maxi priest acknowledges the audience.

This they did by building a gigantic dome which for most of the night was not utilised. Partiers instead opted for the VVIP tables next to the stage. ‘Locals’ were relegated to the left side of the tent in a setup that could pass for the VIP section of any other Ugandan concert.

The mood was set as early as 3pm when Guvnor DJ Selector Jay started playing OldSkool music for the early birds until about 6.30pm when the legends – Moses Matovu, Eddie Ganja and Tony Ssenkebejje – stepped on stage for a session of Rhumba classics.

They were joined by Lilian Mbabazi who seemed overwhelmed by their presence, twice forgetting the lyrics of a Philly Lutaya classic Empisazo Zikyueseko. She however, picked up on her song Vitamin where Michael Kitanda blew out his lungs on the Saxophone. The legends then closed their performance with Kyi Kyetunonanya.

A performance by a group of contemporary dancers as title sponsors Nile Gold unveiled the beer’s new look paved way for Lin Rountree on the trumpet at 8.20pm. Clad in black and white outfit, he performed several of his 75 songs while constantly engaging a seemingly bored crowd.

However, when he performed a jazzy version of Michael Jackson’s ‘You Rock My World, partiers started dancing.

Jackiem Joyner on the saxophone picked it up from here; opening his segment with Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall and Tevin Campbell’s Can we Talk. These were followed by his songs. It was the Jackiem- Lin collaboration for close to 15 minutes which blew away the audience. They left at 10pm.

The moment the capacity crowd had been waiting for arrived at 10.35pm when Maxi Priest stepped on stage.
Clad black quarter pants, red shoes and hat – his 40 year dreads dangling by his knees – the reggae star did not need any introductions.

He performed among others Just a bit longer baby, Should I, Some guys have all the luck, Wild world, I Believe. And when he asked ‘Muli Bulungi’, the crowd went wild.


Instrumentalists,  Jackiem Joyner (L) and Lin Rountree doing their thing.

Reggea then met jazz as Lin and Jackiem then joined the reggae legend on stage for an unrehearsed version of Crazy Love. This was followed by Holiday, My Girl this featuring Richie Stevens, Never Met a Woman Like you and Easy to Love off the 2014 album by the same name.

The show would never be complete without House Call featuring Shaba Ranks, Steven Bishop’s On and On as well as Close to You which he performed at 12.05.

In between, his guitarists sampled Shaggy’s Angel, Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean, Millionaire by Travie McCoy, Bob Marley’s Jamin, Natural Mystic and Redemption Song. And when he announced that Prayer to the World would be his last performance at 12.20am, part of the audience, which had been infiltrated by marijuana smoking men in oversized shirts started making its way out.

Yes, some guys have all the luck. Like the ones who were lucky enough to be at Lugogo Cricket Oval to witness the ultimate entertainer lead them into 54 independence anniversary celebrations.

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