The Joel Sebunjo concert that took place last Thursday was one of the most anticipated one, yes, he’s an amazing Kora player whose last concert was way back in 2013.
Then, he brought down with his skill and music. However above the music, there was more that made the Africa is the Future concert one to talk about for years.
Sebunjo was fresh, he enjoyed every bit of his performance that he and Charmat ended up doing things that they probably had not even rehersed; like that he kept mentioning friends who were dancers, sax players, guitarists and challenged them thus creating a jam session within a concert.
Thus, because of that and a bulk of events that have happened since that show, there was more than a reason to believe that the show at the Sheraton Garden was the going to be the talk of the next two or less years – think about it, since 2013, Sebunjo has since released the highly anticipated I Speak Luganda, nominated for awards, headlined festivals in the region, collaborated with Maurice Kirya during the World Music Day, Fotso and Awadi among others.
To get the hype even higher, he was reuniting with former collaborator at Bayimba, Aly Keita, a renowned king of Balafon.
The show of course went on perfectly, Sebunjo as you can imagine is amazing on the Kora, choosing to start with Mulungi, also an opener on the album was a smart move since it’s that song that can easily get one into a dancing mood since it’s rich with rhythm and the chorus is only a phrase which makes it easier to learn.
Other songs like Africa Express, Nakato and those mashups of his and Keita’s songs were well executed, in fact, the duo, with the help of Charmant proved that they are not jokers but professional; they executed to kill, each note they played had been rehearsed and good for them, Jude Mugerwa, the sound engineer exactly knew what he was doing.
In fact, the problem with Joel Sebunjo’s show had nothing to do with his ability to play, that’s something we’ve come to accept, he knows how to tickle the kora, but as of last Thursday, that was all he offered.
The concert was one of Sebunjo’s dullest, having come from two performances that included one at Bayimba International Festival and the Urban Musics Festival of Anoumabo (Femua) alongside Fally Ipupa, Freshly Ground, Brackets and Smarty among others, he was the opposite of the artiste we’ve grown to love.
He had tried to engage his crowd at the beginning and it had worked but as they went on, he almost declared them absent and went on to do his thing, all by himself.
In fact, unlike the past shows where the artiste teases people, puts the Kora down and enjoys the music by his band, this time, he was mostly on his instrument – thus, leaving Keita and Charmant to surprise each other – it’s like Sebunjo was fatigued or just too tired that he came to play for us to listen but not watch him.
It became the kind of show you would tweet and chat through as long as you were listening to the music (which was beautiful) – in fact, precisely, this whole show would simply be streamed and the feel would stay exactly the same, it’s like Sebunjo was partly performing in front of a mirror and was caring more about the sound of every note than what we were doing.
But thank God, the whole set was then given a new lease when Geatano, the day’s MC asked for more, on behalf of the audience, Sebunjo came back more energized, engaging the crowd that many joined them on stage, surprisingly, the extra song was so good that when it was done, people now asked for their own, ‘one more’.
Then, he was having fun with both his band and audience which was the real highlight of the show.
Verdict: Good sound, good music, costume, in fact everything was on point but the lackluster performance.