Two hours is what it took for Juliana Kanyomozi to prove she’s still here. That’s despite a nine-year stage absence and that’s without mentioning the fact that her last song release was four years ago.
Kanyomozi had earlier promised that her show, aptly titled The Boundless Concert, would be an experience and it’s exactly what it turned out to be. From the song selection, execution, all the way to stage collaborations.
The show started later than advertised. Slated to kick off at 7pm, it wasn’t until 9pm that Juliana started performing.
The show started with a countdown from 50 seconds to 9pm. It started with a five minute pre-recorded video of Juliana explaining why she has been lost, among other things.
Over the years, artistes have been redefining their entrance, some sit within the audience while others emerge from the roof, Juliana used the Serena Victoria Conference entrance, escorted by two female bouncers.
With Jose Sax on stage playing his signature smooth saxophone, Juliana took to the stage, it was a homecoming for the artiste whose last showcase was at the same venue in 2013. In an all-white glittering outfit, she started on a spiritual note with Kanyimbe and later switching to Lib’Esanyu and Toba.
Juliana has been in the industry for more than 20 years, it was thus not surprising people identified her songs even before she started singing. She took things a step higher when she paid tribute to a number of musical greats such as Lucky Dube when she covered That’s the Way It Is and Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water among others.
She had invited her sisters, actress Laura Kahunde and Siima to join her on stage since their father loved Bridge Over Troubled Water. She played the song with violinist Masha Mukalazi.
“This used to be our dad’s favorite song that is why we sang it together with Laura and mum you remember that,” she said.
Like it is a norm with most local concerts, artistes change outfits, Juliana was not any different, she changed outfits from a white glittering one to a black glittering dress.
One could argue that there have been two eras of Juliana on the music industry, one that used to sing particularly in English. That era gave us songs such as Say It, Seven Days and the chorus on Klear Kut’s All I Wanna know. For the audience that filled Serena Hotel’s Victoria Conference Hall on Friday, there are chances that only one percent even paid attention to Juliana when she did those songs.
Then there was an era of Juliana post Taata W’abaana alongside Bobi Wine. The song was in all ways very unprecedented, bringing Bobi Wine’s rugged persona at the time together with mostly radio personality Juliana onto the same song.
As they say, the rest is history. Since then, Juliana has released songs such as Nabikowa, Njagala and of course another collaboration with Bobi Wine, Mama Mbiire – these songs helped her break into an audience beyond the English radio listeners and of course into the main three artistes of time and making her the first woman to win Artiste of the Year at the sixth Pearl Of Africa Music Awards.
On Friday, it was easy to notice the second era of Juliana is appreciated by Ugandans more than anything the first version of herself ever offered.
Through songs such as Nabikowa, Twalina Omukwano, Usiende Mbali (with Hudson) and Kalibatanya, she kept raising the ante.
But she wasn’t done, she surprised the audience when she invited Sweet Kid to perform their collaboration, Sirina Mulala. She had scored on this one going by the reception, the artiste had surpassed expectations. Everyone was on their feet now as they performed and no one sat again after that.
Without any emcee, there was little time wasted between segments but it became confusing in the same way, especially after the final performance. When Juliana did Kibaluma and left, some people thought she would come back for more.
Many left believing the show ended prematurely.
Juliana had the support of Masha Mukalazi on the violin, Shahai Mwiza, Hudson and Emma as backup vocalists, Emma Dragu on trumpet, Joseph Sax on the saxophone, John Inyanga- electric guitar, Joshua Kigozi – Bass guitar, Enock Lugumba – keyboards, Joshua Maggwa – Drums and Myko Ouma – music director/electric guitar.