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LIKE IT IS: Many Curtain Raisers are spoiling what would be great Concerts. We Must Change This!

Bebe Cool performing at Life of Bebe Cool concert. This was one of the best shows of 2016 and had very few support acts. Photo by New Vision.


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Nicholas Kalungi.

It is a monotonous routine. Save for a few, most album launches and ‘single’ artiste’s concerts are graced by over 20 musicians. Minus the main act, there is a very long list of performers. Some musically related to the main act and others not related at all. Some expected and others plain gatecrashers!

In the first week of December, we have two major Ugandan concerts; Sheebah Karungi is holding her maiden and much anticipated concert dubbed Nkwatako Album Launch on 2nd December while Big Eye Starboss is having his well planned Nkuziniremu Self Contained Concert on 3rd December. I love the music and extreme hard work of both artistes. I undoubtedly wish them the very best. I will attend both concerts.

In his ADs, BigEye announces about 20 musicians as confirmed curtain raisers. The long list includes Dr Jose Chameleone, David Lutalo, King Saha, Ziza Bafana, Da New Eagles Band (about 8 musicians there) and many others.

Just this week, Edward Sendi, a popular and outspoken Talk and Talk Radio Show panelist also Events Planner and Publicity shared a list of some of the curtain raisers confirmed for Sheebah’s Nkwatako Album Launch. Edward is working together with KT Promotions; the organizers of this show. Theirs is a winning team.

In his words and I will not distort any, Edward Sendi posted; “Using words like it’s gonna be massive could be an understatement, Kaggwa Myga Andrew or Hilda Kwagala can you help me with a better word to use to mean more than massive because #Nkwatako is gonna be………..”

On this Facebook post, he attached posters of 7 curtain raisers slated to perform at the show. These were David Lutalo, Rema Namakula, Bebe Cool, Desire Luzinda, Mesach Semakula, Carol Nantongo, and Ziza Bafana. Note; there are others not listed here. But already this is an extra-ordinarily massive list.

sendi-edward-post-about-sheebah

Many that responded to this post were excited and used words like ‘Exclusive’ and ‘Show of the Year’ to express their feelings and thoughts.

But some followers logically disagreed and with detailed responses.

One Wan Jiru replied; “Lemme just say this. The reason as to why I hate concerts is the lineup is always the same. This singers should learn how to do a concert with two or three more artists so that we get to enjoy that one artist that we have gone to support. Naye (But) this business of bringing every tom, dick and harry and the main act comes on stage at 1 am is tedious.”

Then Kaggwa Myga Andrew, a lifestyle and feature stories writer at The Observer Newspaper added; “I think none of these artistes deserve to perform at Sheebah’s show. If they are just attending, good for her. I think only people with collaborations with Sheebah should share a stage with her and should be curated within her performance time.”

While these two don’t in any way represent the feelings of the entire music industry, you can’t rule out the fact that they bring on board honest, legitimate and well thought views.

For over a decade, most of our concerts and album launches have been designed in the same way. We are treated to the same script over and again. An album launch is organized and as a way of wooing fans, you bring on board as many artistes as possible. At the end, the fans are spoilt for choice. Too many performers, so many ups and downs on the same show.

Big-Eye-Phina-Mugerwa-and-Eddy-Kenzo1

Phina Mugerwa, Eddie Kenzo and Big Eye at a past event. Three support acts are just enough for an album launch.

While this has largely been and still the norm that music revelers have be accustomed to, it is not right. An album launch or one artiste concert is an opportunity for the artiste to show how far he/she has come, how he/she has matured and grown musically over time. Such a show is meant to give the artiste an exclusive opportunity to uninterruptedly perform and relate with the Fans. It boosts the artiste’s confidence and overall development. Thus, it should be a special platform for the main act.

That said, he/she can have a few support acts in form of artistes he/she has works with – collaborations, artistes that come from his/her record label/crew, and artistes that have aided his/her musical success. I mean those Artistes that are part of his or her musical journey.

At Bebe Cool’s last two concerts; Friends of Bebe Cool and Life of Bebe Cool, the few support acts that joined him on stage were either family, music friends/allies or members of his crew. None of these featured on the promotional posters and adverts. As such, the fans expected only Bebe Cool. The rest were surprise appearances.

For the past two years, South Africa’s most marketable artiste Cassper Nyovest has held two mega concerts named; Fill Up the Dome and Fill Up Orlando Stadium.  All the concert posters and adverts for these shows featured one artiste – Cassper. Thus, the thousands of fans that turned up came to watch Cassper. The few that joined him on stage were unannounced guest performers.

At the end, when both Bebe Cool and Cassper Nyovest’s ‘one soldier, one man’ concerts sold out; well deserved credit and respect was given to the artiste not a gang of performers.

But look at it differently! When an album launch with promotional posters and adverts announcing over ten artistes sells out, who do you give the credits for the massive turn up? The main act or the support acts. The brutal truth is that in such scenarios, it is shared responsibility and shared credit. But remember this is a big night for one artiste. Why then divide the success.

And that is not all. What if, the curtain raisers ‘steal the show’ by performing better than the main act. In doing so, they shift the attention from the main act to themselves. The following day, the curtain raisers grace media front pages at the expense of the main act because the former musically flogged the latter at his/her show.  Such unfortunate occurrences have happened and continue to be seen thanks to our wrong way of doing things.

Furthermore, the flip side of things is equally disastrous. Some curtain raisers come to events when they are clearly unplanned, unrehearsed, shabby and not fit to perform. When they step on to the stage, they sink the concert mood to record lows that reviving it is at times impossible.

Plus, there are those curtain raisers that disorganize back stage, battle with program managers and announcers as they force their way to perform at wrong times or for long duration. At the end, instead of raising the stage curtain, they bring havoc. Such need to be discontinued completely.

I will pragmatically note that; once seen as performance and audience mood boosters, most Concert Curtain Raisers are now Spoilers and at the best Attention Seekers. Many come with very selfish intentions.

All this is my personal opinion. If am wrong, I take full responsibility for it.  But then, I insist that having no or very few organized, rehearsed and well scheduled curtain raisers is the way to go. Then again; Like it Is, you have the right to disagree and continue with the usual, same, and tedious business!


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