Despite the chilly weather, hundreds of music lovers thronged the Molapo Piazza in Gaborone this past Friday, to ‘turn it up’ at the I Am Legend jazz concert. The jazz performances were something to write home about, on what was probably one of the most epic nights in the Gaborone entertainment scene this year.
Although I had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of a few artists rehearsing earlier in the day, I wasn’t prepared for the amazing acts, talent and artistry that oozed on the stage performance in the evening.
The show started on time, which was quite applaudable, considering that many shows tend to pull the ‘African time’ arrangement.
Mmaphala started the show with a lukewarm performance that almost sent the audience into a lullaby. However, this brief lull was revitalised by Lezibo, who walked onto the stage in style, draped in a smart shirt and pants, with his trademark hat firmly on his head.
He belted firm favourite love songs, mixing his performance with energetic dance routines that left the audience eating from the palm of his hand. When he performed his popular song, ‘Malome mpatlele mosadi’, he beckoned Gontse of Big Brother fame (who was MC for the night) to the stage, and bent at her knees, as he sang his heart out. As he serenaded the pretty lass, one would be forgiven for thinking it was a genuine proposal. Such is the talent of the young man, who has catapultated to stardom, cementing himself as the local King of African Pop.
Next on the line-up was Vusi Nova, who started his set with the amazing song, ‘Walk into the light’. His grand performance of the song ‘Nguwe’ had the ladies screaming madly as they watched the handsome singer belting it out with his powerful voice. Despite the cold weather, Nova wore casual pants and a flimsy fashionable t-shirt, which showed off his chiseled biceps, needling him as indeed one of the poster boys of the South African music industry.
The audience went into a wild frenzy when firm favourites The Soil, took to the stage for their acapella set. It’s unquestionable that the trio, comprised of Buhlendalo, Ntsika and Luphindo, are immensely talented considering the harmonics they created without even a single instrument! Their charismatic stage presence and energetic moves got the crowd on their feet, dancing and singing along. The song ‘Joy’, which was used in a well-known Cadbury television advert, put smiles on many faces, and the feel good easy to sing-along-to lyrics had everyone merry. When the trio performed ‘Susan’, the whole block stood up and shouted happily, waving, shaking and cheering loudly. By the time the three left the stage, the audience had clearly still not had enough of them, and started shouting, ‘We want more’, urging the group to do an en-core of ‘Susan’.
After a short break, Don Laka took to the stage, proving that he’s an smart jazz maestro. The Mamelodi born star performed a few classics and new songs. Not even the dispersing crowd could kill the momentum of his band members, who played with ecstatic smiles on their faces, hitting high notes with ease. His nimble hands punched away at his piano, and let out haunting melodies that would make an ogre sob. The Laka closed the show in style, incorporating his upbeat set with Sophiatown inspired moves, which had the oldies present, jiving and shaking in excitement, as if in a trance, perhaps reminiscing on days gone by.
One thing is for sure, Batswana love jazz!
One of the revellers, Gape Mosiakobo, said the show was well organised and reflected the passion the artistes have for their craft. “I enjoyed all the acts, especially the Soil; they are super talented! I however think the organisers should consider hiring portable toilets next time because queuing to use one of two toilets made us miss out on great parts of the performances,” she said.
Another reveller, Isaac Kgosiitsile*, who brought his wife, mother and two siblings, said he hoped the organisers would keep up the excellent momentum. “Good entertainment is hard to come by in Gabs. It was my first time at the Molapo Piazza and I am impressed by the set-up and sound. The ‘wow’ performances were the cherry on top,” he said.
By 3am, the last of the revellers were filing out of the venue, with some milling around the VIP area to see their favourite acts, and ask for a ‘selfie’, before leaving.
I am Legend, was a great way to bid summer farewell in style and take a winter hiatus.