THE BIG SHOWS. Last year was one good year for concert organisers. Most of them were successful and many of our local shows sold out – an encouraging thing for our artistes. Notable last year was Neyo’s concert that met more than expected, despite the downpour before the show. EDGAR R. BATTE gives a recap of the shows we won’t forget.
Lilian Mbabazi gets upclose and personal
Former Blu*3 singer Lilian Mbabazi was live in concert and proved her growth musically as a solo act. She attracted a full house at Kampala Serena Hotel where she connected with fans at a beautifully-produced music concert.
She shared her musical journey, in a short video. Funny, emotional, impatient and so much more were her personal description. She went on to introduce each song she performed plus the stories around them. Artiste friends Juliana Kanyomozi, Irene Namubiru, Maurice Kirya, Mun G among others, were present to support her.
One of the highlights at the show was her performance with Jamaican-born music star, Nyanda. The other was her sense of fashion as she changed several times; all smart and elegant.
Neyo live in Bell Pop n Jam Concert
American RnB sensation, Neyo was in town on October 30 and he lived up to the hype. He left a lasting impression as one of the best performers in the recent past and most revellers only likened his show to UB40’s February 2008 concert.
The down-to-earth star poured his heart out as he did songs he is famed for, such as Sexy Love, Because of you, Miss Independent, Closer, So Sick, and many others.
It did not matter that earlier in the day, Kampala had experienced a heavy downpour, but revellers still crammed Lugogo Cricket Oval. Neyo, who came with his dancers, put up an energetic performance that bordered on sexiness. The Michael Jackson admirer in him came alive on stage as he pulled off some cool strokes to a cheering crowd.
The show was well-produced. Organisers forked out a bit of dime for the artiste’s fees, flying him in and his 35-man crew and own equipment. But well, it was all worth it.
Friends of Bebe Cool concert
After releasing a well-mastered album titled Go Mama, Bebe Cool invited his friends to a concert at Kampala Serena Hotel. He wanted to prove his growth as a musician and the fact that he was turning a new page in his music career.
Fans can attest that he had rehearsed well for a live performance. In the audience were fans of different classes; from tycoons such as Sudhir Ruparelia and Gordon Wavamunno, to young corporates and die-hard campus fans.
The dread-locked singer serenaded the house with a three-hour music sail, melodically infecting fans as he held his forte, proof of his musical strength, hard work and talent that spans close to two decades.
One of the highlights at the concert was a segment in which his eight-year-old daughter Beata, played legendary German composer, Ludwig van Beethoven’s compositions on the keyboard, awing the audience.
Karyn White headlines Nile Gold Jazz Safari
Karyn White was worth the anticipation at the Nile Gold Jazz Safari. The American music star warmed hearts with her soulful delivery of classics such as Can I Stay With You, Superwoman, Secret Rendezvous, I’d Rather Be, The Way I Feel About You, and more.
She was in Africa for the first time and the African-American star was happy to reconnect with her roots. For the reveller, it was a good chance to watch an old skool artiste.
Another headliner who blew away revellers was Kirk Whalum, who ‘made love’ to his sax during a performance of classics such as I’ll Make Love To You and I’ll Always Love You.
It did not matter which part of Serena one sat during the show, everyone had fun and got their groove on.
Qwela Junctions: Guitar Maestros, Sax Aces and Divas
The Qwela Junctions were one of the year’s stage highlights. Artistes in their respective music genres showcased their abilities at the quarterly offering. Myko Ouma, Kaz Kasozi, Charmant Mushaga, Ian Businge, and Maurice Kirya created excitement as they plucked away.
Ouma was at his usual good, making the guitar sound lyrical, Businge and Kasozi making it groovy with his blues, Charmant with a touch of African jazz and passion and Kirya getting acoustic.
At another quarterly musical collaborative concert were the Sax Aces with a line-up of talented fellows led by Afrigo Band’s Moses Matovu and Isaiah Katumwa alongside Bryan Mugenyi, Moroots, Joseph ‘Sax’ Kizito, Michael Kitanda and his brother ‘Happy K’ Kyazze.
Their passionate performance got the crowd on its feet. On stage, they went to great lengths to create beautiful melodies through their golden-coloured saxophones. This particular junction was proof that Uganda has gifted instrumentalists.
In November, seven divas shared a stage. Led by Afrigo’s veteran singer, Rachael Magoola who owes her fame to the good old Obangaina hit, the new generation divas put up a spirited performance.
There was gospel diva Solome, Sandra Suubi and Jemimah Sanyu whose smoothness on the microphone left revellers awed. Rita Sabiiti combined vocal abilities with her masterly on the guitar while Naava Grey was soulful and captivating. Moroots sang and blew melody into the saxophone. Then Magoola brought on the old skool fusion. When the divas united to bow to the audience, chants of ‘we want more’ began. Even if they performed all night, fans would not have got enough of the talented ladies. They were simply amazing.
Sauti Sol, Swahili Nation leave lasting memories
Swahili Nation was lined up to curtainraise for Sauti Sol. But when the trio of Charlie King, Ken Kayongo and Drew Muturi stepped on stage, they brought memories alive with their old jams like Mpenzi, Hakuna Matata, Nyama, and more.
King hit the high notes, Kayongo sung into ladies hearts while Muturi sang and danced affectionately. The trio are gifted friends. Well, fans had to wait till about midnight to see Sauti Sol whose fame rode on Sura Yako and Nishike.
The crowd booed the MCs off the stage as they were anxious for the MTV award-winning Sol. When the energetic group stepped on stage, they prompted revellers to get off their seats and on the dance floor.
Fans shook their bodies to the band’s authentic African sounds, deeply rooted in Kenya, both in language and influence as they celebrated women.
“We have always prayed that we perform in Uganda. Give a round of applause to Tusker Lite. Thanks for bringing us here. Mwebale No Uganda,” Bien-Aimé Baraza, one of the group’s members said. Baraza particularly outdid himself on stage. At some point, he invited a female reveller and requested her to help him unbutton his shirt, exposing his fairly-chiselled body.
Billy Ocean colours Kampala with love
For a moment, it was a bet on whether grey-haired Billy Ocean still had the warm voice that made him a musical gem of the 1980s and 90s. And when he stepped on staged, all such fears were arrested. He still had it all; he could sing, dance and even joke.
He crooned away to all-time classics like Colour of Love, attracting lovers to the dance floor to waltz away. The tempo was kept low as he did Suddenly, Mystery Lady and Are You Ready.
Then the 65-year-old turned up things a notch higher with Lover Boy, Caribbean Queen, Out Of My Dreams and When The Going Gets Tough. Old timers like veteran DJ, Capital FM’s Alex Ndawula, got loud, singing along and requested Ocean to play personal favourites.
The singer was in town to entertain and support charity. Part of the proceeds from the show went towards aiding Rahab Uganda, a charity organisation that rehabilitates and rescues young prostitutes off the streets. The concert was dubbed Have fun and give back.
Mafikizolo at Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo
Mafikizolo returned this year and were the main act at the Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo climax. They were a good choice because they treated guests to energetic and well-choreographed dance routines.
Avid fans danced themselves almost lame and a few sung their lungs hoarse. Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda was chief guest and made a promise to the tourism fraternity that government was seriously considering increasing support in terms of investment in the sector. Tourism is a top foreign exchange earner for Uganda.
Different players in the sector were awarded for a job well done. Uganda Tourism Board’s James Tumusiime called on the media to increase its efforts to publicise motherland’s beauty as well as cover events and news in the tourism sector.