Iryn Namubiru may not have had a the biggest audience at Serena Hotel as she held her debut concert at the space on Friday, but definitely created one of the best musical journey story boards an artiste can ever make on a rectangular stage.
Of course it was evident that some of the Namubiru fans were skeptical she would get the numbers, for instance, by 8pm, the parking lots of ticketing points at Serena were ordinary with between ten to fifteen people purchasing tickets.
She would later settle for a modest crowd but above all, an intimate one, they loved Namubiru to the born that the very first half of the show sounded like a choir practice, they sang word by word of the first song of the night and probably her biggest song to date, Nkuweki and they didn’t stop even when she was going through those timely ones like Nsonyiwa, Nkwagala, Tebiba Bingi and her rendition of Philly Lutaaya, Empisazo among others.
Drapping in a white jumpsuit, she chose to surprise her guests while starting her set – appearing from the middle of the audience breaking into Nkuweki, which she sang while walking through different people that of course sang along, the defining moment was when she knelt down to greet the Buganda Katikiro (Prime Minister) Charles Peter Mayiga before continuing to the mainstage.
Since she had been a few minutes late to start the show, it was a marathon that had very minimized interaction; in fact, the entire show had very little interactions, for instance besides the Kenneth Mugabi performance during one of the breaks, all the other stops along the show were punctuated by her band doing rare jazzy versions of her songs.
For people that saw Namubiru gives a forgettable performance at Bayimba International Festival, this was a total contrast, she had a set list and was out there to surprise and shock, some songs had been hugely tampered with to sound different and she left her comfort zone a number of times and did things differently, especially when she did solos either with just the bass guitar or sax.
It’s some sort of effect that Serena has on performers, it was clear that Namubiru had out rehersed herself, she was on point at way too many incidents like forging a chemistry with her backup vocalists and instrumentalists, they had an arrangement that allowed everyone’s strength to shine – be it Jose on the saxophone or Myko Ouma on Nkwagala, the show allowed everyone on stage to contribute to a musical brand that is Iryn.
She closed off at mid night with a more dance filled session where she did songs like Yoono, Begombeko and Samwa Samwa among others.
She closed the night with her 2005 collaboration with Bebe Cool, Simbalala, back then; it was one of the songs she used to stamp her presence on the industry though on Friday, it was a reassurance that she’s still present.
First Published by The Observer