“Keep it Real,” a 3D wording greeted you at the stage singer, instrumentalist Maureen Rutabigwa alias Mo Roots was meant to grace. But it wasn’t the only thing on it – there multiple screens of different sizes, speakers and LED lights whose rays kept dancing to different tunes and thus influencing the entire stage feel.
You could wonder what some of these things were doing there, it however turned out the 3D curving was there for the beauty, the artiste was basically paying homage to her sponsors. But that was only a portion of all the things that were on stage, remember she was playing with a band, Ctrl.A.D a collective band made up of instrumentalists and producers whose body of works exceeds making music but experimenting with it.
Their sound involves a lot of equipment – on this particular set, you had three pianos, a drum machine bigger than all drum kits you have seen and then many laptops, the whole show was some sort of a studio session without take twos. The band was in their element for this one and a fact that Mo Roots herself is a producer, they were not afraid to tryout things live on stage, experimenting with auto-tune, punk, house and electronic music in one go, at some points, they could even do live samples of other people’s bodies of works.
Mo Roots was presenting her new album From the Sun, at The Square Place in the industrial area last Saturday; it’s an album she crafted while working in England for the past two years and judging by the concert, she let London’s art scene influence her process. Many of the songs on the album border soul and new school genres such as electronic – but performing these songs on stage was the epitome of an experience that seemed to appreciate instrumentation more than the vocal ability.
For most of the show, the vibrations from those drums, pianos or effects created by those other machines on scene could not let you hear all she was singing about, this became an undoing, the heavy sound drove some people from the comfort of lodging near the stage to a distance, seems no one wanted to leave the show with a headache. And unlike the past music Mo Roots has recorded, this particular album intended to use all her other elements but the saxophone, for instance, for the entire show, she only played the instrument once.
She had monumental moments on stage with songs such as This Woman She Cries, it marries both spoken word, soul or blues and of course, the ending that echoed an African chant was memorable. The shows ended on a high note when she performed one of the most loved songs, Kings and Queens, inviting her audience to sing along, she had to save some energy for a performance at Blankets and Wine.