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Boyz II Men concert: The good, bad, ugly

Party goers including Parliament Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa attend the Boyz II Men concert in Kampala. PHOTO/FILE

Like any picture, the one of Mr Thomas Tayebwa with his friends holding each other tightly in what looked like a warm embrace only told half the story of the recent Boyz II Men concert.

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament was in the VIP section for the concert that was staged in a big tent mounted at Kololo Independence Grounds. With the VIP section housed in close proximity to the stage, its tickets—priced at Shs500,000—were bound to sell like hot cakes. And indeed they did, selling out well before others.

Boyz II Men are widely acclaimed for their live performances, their impeccable harmonies, their strong vocal range, and their ability to captivate audiences with their heartfelt performances. But to pull this off, the stage they are assigned has to be a befitting accompaniment throughout the show.

A member of the Boyz II Men performs during their show in Kampala. PHOTO/FILE

Unfortunately, the set-up of the audience area did not play to Boyz II Men’s strengths—the group’s vocal delivery and harmonies. Accustomed to delivering performances in closed arenas or halls where stages are low enough for them to interact with the audience, organisers of their concert in Uganda compelled Boyz II Men to stand in the canopy while the audience watched them.

For those that shelled out Shs500,000 to attend the concert, they could see a bit of what was happening on the main stage. Revellers who parted with Shs300,000 and Shs200,000 were not as lucky. They could hardly catch a glimpse of the stage. Most of them ended up watching the entire show from screens, totally detached from the ambiance, feel, and aesthetics of the show they heavily paid for.

If it was any consolation, Fenon—the Ugandan producers of the show—outdid themselves in ensuring the sound was a befitting accompaniment throughout the show. This was no mean feat considering the travails that their opposite number in Kenya grappled with a day before when Boyz II Men performed under the Yetu Festival banner.

In understanding their assignment when it came to not just sound but also stage design, Fenon found redemption following the flying stage debacle at the start of the year.

Boyz II Men, who have established themselves as one of the most successful male vocal groups in history, needed a good sound output after what reportedly transpired in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi.

With a good sound output guaranteed, the show often showcased a mix of soulful ballads, one up-tempo R&B hit, the obvious Motown Philly, and two soul/rock fusion. This created a dynamic and engaging experience for the audience, all things considered.

Doubtless, Boyz II Men’s standout moment at Kololo was when they performed the timeless ballad titled I Will Make Love to You. They handed out roses while crooning the ballad, and this left the female audience on cloud nine.

As is the case of many, if not all, Ugandan concerts, there was a fistfight in the ordinary section. Two female revellers—later established to be co-girlfriends—handbagged each other for a few minutes before they were drawn apart.

By the time the show ended—a few minutes shy of midnight—the good, bad, and ugly had been witnessed.

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