When Stanbic does music, Stanbic DOES music. 8th October 2016 drove this point home for me. I wasn’t even going to go, because those ticket prices were crazy (for me, in all my broke man glory) but my blessers came through. #Blessed #GodsFavorite at this point. Thanks to them I had a chance to be a part of the Music Festival madness in the Standard Ticket Section (which btw, is always the most lit section at any event. I don’t know what it is about people in VIP and VVIP sections, they never really turn up).
So anyway I made my way to The Lusaka Polo Club, ready for a chilled night of live music, great company and drinks. I was half expecting a small crowd because a popular beer and music festival happened to fall on this particular weekend and was relatively cheaper. To my surprise the Stanbic music festival filled up pretty fast, with the VVIP and VIP section filling up before our Standard section, crazy huh?
The set list that night looked alright to me. Izrael, Afunika, James Sakala, Caitlin DeVille and the main crowd puller UB40!
Gesh Groove and Karen were our MCs for the night, they brought their wit and humor with them. I’ve said a couple of times how I want to be like Gesh when I grow up, he’s too dope.
Izrael hit the stage and I swore I only knew 2 or 3 of his songs, but as his set progressed I realized I had been singing along to every song he performed. Then he brought out Nalu, his wife, the crowd went wild! I was super excited as well. They performed a couple of songs together and you could tell they’ve been singing together for a while because their stage chemistry is pure magic, their harmonies were flawless. They ended their set with a kiss which had us elated because, you know, Zambians aren’t particularly down for PDA so when they do it’s an occasion!
Next up was Afunika, introduced to us as his own brand of kalindula. Even now I swore I wouldn’t know more that 2 of his songs but as his set went on I again found myself singing along to each song. His energy was through the roof! His back up dancers did this thing with their waists that had me questioning my Biology…maybe some humans are boneless, because WHAT? I should mention that at this point I was just elated that these artists were singing LIVE and not giving us Lip Sync Battle vibes. It made me proud of our artists.
James Sakala hit the stage next, accompanied by the amazing Elect Band. Dressed in a white one sleeved Afrocentric outfit that I wanted to jack from him, because it was dapper African attire goals, shout out to his stylist! What followed was a tribute to Paul Ngozi and a couple of his own songs. One segment of his set that got all of us up out of our seats though, was a Mandoza tribute. We were not ready! RIP Mandoza. James Sakala and The Elect Band are a match made in music heaven.
Caitlin DeVille and her electric violin were up next. When I tell you this girl has gifts! I was mind blown by her violin skills alone but she dances while she plays, barefoot on the stage might I add. The stage smoke and the brilliant set lights topped off an amazing violin journey as she played some pop records, popular rock anthems and a few of her own compositions. What stood out for me was when she played Clean Bandit’s “Rather Be” and the crowd provided backing vocals. At that particular moment there was genuinely no place I’d rather be 🙂 Oktoberfest catch your shade! I kid. I was pretty sure I would lose my voice by the end of the night.
Gesh and Karen gave us a 30 minute break before the main act, UB40, came on. Yo, stage presence is something these guys have on lock. They came on and immediately everyone was on their feet. We were jamming to old time favorites like “Cherry Oh Baby”, “Sillhouettes”, “Here I Am (Come and Take Me)” and so many more. These are songs I had heard play in the car as my dad dropped us off at school. They performed a couple of new songs from their most recent album as well. I was in awe of how amazing they sound live, one of my friends kept yelling “They sound just like the tape, guy! Just like the tape!” and if you were there you know this is 100% FACT!
So at around 10:30 PM Ali yells “goodnight Lusaka, it’s been great!”, the lights go off and they walk off stage. It suddenly hits everyone that they have not performed their greatest hit “Red Red Wine”, I mean when someone mentions UB40 what song almost immediately comes to mind? The crowd was livid, stomping and yelling in unison “RED RED WINE! RED RED WINE!” It was a beautiful kind of livid though.
After about 20 minutes and almost giving up, they were back! First with an amazing drum solo with mad lights, and then they came back and finished off their set with crowd favorites “Kingston Town”, “Can’t Help Falling in Love” and the parting song “Red Red Wine.”
Well played, Ali, Astro and Mickey!