Gregory Gondwe, Malawi Best Blogger 2014

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sham Religious Choir Show


On paper it sounds good to have plenty artists playing on the same day, the same venue and coming one after the other... That has been the case the last two weekends where Zomba, Blantyre and Lilongwe witnessed a large turnout of both patrons and artists that include Ethel Kamwendo Banda, Favoured Martha, Kamuzu Singers, Great Angels Choir, The Marvellous Deeds, Ndirande Anglican voices, Peter Mlangeni, Limbani Simenti, Mlaka Maliro,  the Mighty POV and Thocco Katimba.

This was however the show that was organised by The Great Angels Choir. The group has reported in the media that it had 850 patrons at Gymkhana Club in Zomba, 2500 at Robbins Park in Blantyre and 4,000 at ICA Marque in Lilongwe.

Every head parted ways with K1000 and this money needed to get its worth by way of tight performances from the artists.  

I attended the Blantyre Show which was scheduled to run between 1 PM and 7PM, a six-hour marathon that was expected to excite the over 2500 patrons that jam-packed Robins Park.

One clear thing that I witnessed was that it was apparent that there was an overcrowding problem which caused no problem to the organisers whose only care was how much money they would be making by the end of the day.

It also provides answers on how much effort should be put when designing entertainment infrastructure. Robbins Park for example has air conditioners, but whether these are just for decoration or they are really there to serve the purpose only the owners can answer. But for me, I think my answer is for the former because I have never seen them functioning where they are required to do so. There was too much heat emitting from 2500 bodies, some diseased while others too young to be exposed to such a melting pot of what might turn out to be hazardous to their ‘green’ health.  

The other challenge is that there were too many artists for so little time. Others like Ethel Kamwendo Banda gave the people raw deal. She sounded tired and out of place. While others literary played a single track with some extension that was meant to mean that they are doing something. Next time start from 7 Am to 7 PM, or just invite few artists.

The other challenge I discovered was lack of stage discipline. Not from the artists though, but from the patrons, some of whom were high on something from spiritual powers to powers of alcohol and banned substances even when this was a gospel show.

One would leap on stage and start performing with the artists. At first the rest of the patrons would feel they are part of the band before realisation dawning on them that these were just wayward patrons. Then everyone would be trying to join the stage and your guess of confusion that would emanate is as good as mine. 

The other think I am reluctant to talk about is on the musical equipment, more so because they are owned by Mr. Entertainers himself. Jai Banda does not take kindly when you talk about his instruments in a negative shade.

But for the sake of retaining quality I will take the risk of being flaked for differing with him again. Instruments are like human beings when it comes to getting tired. Unless he schools me more, there is no way instruments can play at its full capacity for six long gruelling hours without having to show some fatigue. If it is possible the main instruments that project quality output, especially mixers, is supposed to come with substitute ones. At around 5 to 6 PM when Ndirande Anglican was to start playing, the instruments had lost its sharpness and were sounding hoarse and tired. The performance had to be stopped briefly.

Then there is also need to consider adding microphones when groups like Great Angels or Ndirande Anglican Voices are performing. The situation where four people have to share a single microphone is mocking the patrons to say the least. More so when there is need for two leading vocalist to sing like in the case of The Great Angels, the other singers are literary reduced to dancers as they have no microphones to sing on. Otherwise the shows were great and exciting except for the little problems that turned to almost a sham.

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