When Sauti Sol album is good, it’s very good. Their performance last weekend was short, but not short of explosives!
With the dawn of the 21st century, any new pop act wishing to launch an album, has many channels to do it: YouTube teasers, interviews, media tours or press releases dished out to bloggers—keeping their fingers closed for positive reviews.
There is also the option of an online launch without all the fanfare. Or, if they are Sauti Sol, with an amazing corporate back-up, they can hire the Ngong Racecourse on the eve of Valentine’s Day, charge Kshs 1000 and give the crowd a performance to remember. The professionalism in the way this concert was managed will linger on forever.
Hype man, DNG and DJ Wiz duo welcomed the flapper-dapper crowd that had started streaming in as early as 6pm. The set-up was out of this world and this was definitely the ultimate Valentine’s Day plot for any lovers.
“It feels like we have been preparing for this momentous concert all our career! We can’t wait for Kenya and all our fans to see us launch the album Live and Die in Afrika in what will be the best concert Kenya has seen yet! We are here to give great music, a world-class show, support local talent as you will see by the list of professionals who are part of this concert that will kick off our countrywide tour. We have been hiding in serious full-day rehearsals for months, it’s time to show the world what we got,” says Sauti Sol’s official statement.
The crowd had been in the shadows as the band prepared momentously. “Sauti Sol believe in giving upcoming talent that chance,” reckoned DNG before welcoming the first opening act for the night, Andrew Wambua. The pianist left his mark and was not short in expressing his joy to open for Sauti Sol.
From the keys, to the sultry and angelic voice, the next supporting act was Beraccah Kisia supported by Matthew Smawfield. Her live performance was all about providing everyone involved with a unique experience. Her music is cool, relaxing, intimate, sensual and romantic, new and young. She oozed greatness on that stage.
Paving way for Le Band, a boy’s band that a year ago was doing covers for other established musicians, the band’s ‘diverse and indescribable’ as they like to refer to their genre, was a crowd’s favourite. Their message was clear, “to make Kenya appreciate band and live music; and to have music that spreads a message and not only entertains.”
The release of Sauti Sol’s album marks the end of a lengthy journey. Anyone who knows the band does not need to have been keeping close watch on their social media feeds to know that Live and Die in Afrika is an album that has metamorphosed into a masterpiece. It sounds like it.
Before taking the stage, the audience was treated to a famous speech by Kenyan lawyer, P.L.O Lumumba even as the screens beamed images of great African acts. The tour’s first concert revealed the live performances from their previous albums alongside the new one.
An 8-man band and a set of dancers, everything was explosive. From their choice of outfits, to the stage props—heck, they even ferried a piano and the actual benches they used to sit on while singing acapella back then at Alliance Francaise.
The performance was nothing short of an experience of their journey shared on stage. They left their all on that stage. If it was dancing, they danced to the well-choreographed moves that were in sync with the dancers on stage.
More than 2 hours of nothing but Sauti Sol’s fabulousness on stage. Those close to the stage say that Bien Aime’s bald head was literally ‘steaming’ every time he sang. And no, it was not those smoke effects they use on stage.
Everyone has their authentic moments about the performance but Bien’s tears of joy before the fans stands out. Their performance with the keys master, Aaron Rimbui on ‘Kuliko Jana’ also stands.
Supported by Aaron Rimbui, Amos and Josh and Dela, the stellar performances once more depicted why music is in good hands. Occasionally, you fancy how Sauti Sol enjoy what they do—Bien would play the piano with his one foot on top of the piano itself, Savara Mudigi almost went on a crowd surfing after their fans, the Sol Generation as they call them tried to pull him as he reached to greet them.
Indeed, at the end of their performance and after leaving everything on stage—yes, and even honouring the crowd to sing ‘Isabela’ twice, taking their tops off for ‘Nishike’ and finishing off with ‘Shake yo Bam Bam’, nobody wanted to leave. They all wanted more.
Sauti Sol, all teary would in one accord bow and give thanks for their fans. But the party was not over! DJ Kafi backed MC Samora took to the decks for the after party, playing nothing but the best in dancehall, pop, Kenyan and afro beats. Sol Generation would flood to Steve’s Steakhouse, a stone throw away for the official after-party with Sauti Sol.
When all is said and done, Sauti Sol’s performance was one ‘for the ages!’
Follow the conversation and concert and tour updates on #LiveandDieinAfrika and #ValentineswithSautiSol
Photos credited to Quaint Photography