When he was a drummer at Loketo band, Legendary Awilo Longomba showed glimpses of his full-energy performances when once in a while, he stepped off those drum seats on to the floor to shake off of the body and stretch his muscles.
He was a young man full of energy and full of life and having come from a musical family, he had great exposure and coupled with his natural talent, he fitted well with the likes of Arlus Mabele, Jean Baron, Lucien Bokilo, Mark Makaire and Dindo on the vocals and Diblo Dibala, Dally Ndala Kimoko Yoko and Blandin Wabacha and Shamon on the strings in that massive ban Loketo.
Despite Loketo comprising the Crème de la Crème of the time in 1908’s and early 90’s and also being the most sort after band of the decade then, Awilo decided to try his luck in singing and exchanged the drum sticks for the microphone which paid off.
And he did not only swap positions, he also quit the band and went solo in 1995 and with the help of his friends Shimita, Ballou Canta, Dindo Yogo, Dally Kimoko, Sam Mangwana, Syran Mbenza and Rigo Star he produced the album ‘Moto Pamba’ which became an instant success.
But it was shortly followed in 1998 with the release of his breakthrough album ‘Coupe Bibamba’ which took him places receiving worldwide recognition and becoming a darling in the continent especially East African region where he had several concerts booked.
One of those concerts saw him close the millennium and welcome the new one in 1999 in Kampala in which he confesses left fond memories in him. He also declared Uganda has a special place in his heart.
Fast forward 20 year later, a Multi Award winning and legendary Awilo returns to Uganda courtesy of Cents Events now fully mature, well-travelled and very successful musically with bestselling albums under his belt.
However, not so much has changed in his stage act as he maintains the cheeky and playful demeanor, full of energy and full of life as he showcased last night at Kampala Serena Hotel. He has also maintained the core of that band he used to produce the ‘Coup Bibamba’ album including the Paris-born queen dancers that has kept the aura around the Soukous master fresh and original.
It all felt like drop back in the times especially for those who experienced this 20 years back or just lovers of lingala music who have kept in touch with the genre for many years when he stepped on stage at around 10:15pm. It was madness characterized by goose bumps and ululation for the crowd of mostly 40 plus as millenials watched on from the sides or on TV at home save for a few party animals.
It was a trade mark full-blooded, energy-supping performance which he kicked off with ‘Moyen Te’ and followed by hit songs like ‘Coupé Bibamba’, ‘Jen Ai Marre’, ‘Mobimba Ya Mama’, ‘Karolina’, ‘Gaté le coin’ before introducing his new talent recruit BM whom he met in London. BM’s song ‘Rosalina’ has received massive airplay around the world; thanks to the social media challenge which went viral. The promising young artiste then performed the song with that ‘Break Your Back ‘ dance to the delight of the younger generation.
Awilo kept interacting with his audience as he invited them to get closer to the stage. He even made it more fun as he engaged them by inviting the men to get for themselves the dancers as wives as he introduced the band. The strokes that our Ugandan men who were brave enough to step on stage were a sight to behold drawing wild cheers from the revelers.
Awilo then announced the show had come to an end at around 11:30 but the fans who were still yearning for more demanded he performs ‘Porokoto’ which he gladly complied to as a bonus and returned to perform though many still remained glued on the seats long after Awilo finally left the stage at 11:45pm perhaps praying he would return for more. Anyway, they still can catch him in Arua tomorrow if they can find their way there.
To warm up the stage for the legendary Congolese singer, our legendary singer Jose Chameleone made a surprise appearance and did a free style lingala execution alongside Eddy Kenzo. The two had also at a press conference been recognized by Awilo who said they are already International material.
Jackie Chandiru made a powerful come back presentation as well as gospel artiste Levixone who represented for Jesus. Fello Congolese born artiste and guitar maestro Charmant Mushaga charmed the crowd especially chief guest Katikiro Owek Charles Peter Mayiga with his soothing acoustic performance and crowned it by giving the Buganda Kingdom Prime Minister his music CD.
The only downside of the otherwise well organized event was the no show by Cindy who had also been lined up as one of the curtain raisers. According to the host of the event Salvado Patrick Idringi, Cindy the King Herself turned up very late for the Singleton-sponsored concert and was not allowed to step on stage.