Poor sound quality riles Thomas Mapfumo
By Blessed Katiyo
Chimurenga guru Thomas Mukanya Mapfumo nearly lost it early Sunday morning after poor sound engineering almost marred his one and half hour performance at the Johannesburg Standard Bank Arena.
The 69 year old veteran, known for his straight talk, publicly berated one of the young white engineers. The dreadlocked mbira guru threw up his hands into the air in frustration as the engineer walked across the stage to sort the deafening sound feedback, which raised the ire of the fans as well.
His vocals could not come out on the PA system leading to some chaotic scenes.
The fans who numbered an estimated 1000 seemed to agree with Mukanya as they clapped and whistled while the young lad got a tongue-lashing.
Master of ceremonies on the night, Simba Gukutu, pleaded for patience as the crowd became restless.
“Let us show some respect for Mukanya please sound engineers, he is our legend and world legend please get the sound system right,” pleaded Gukutu.
Mukanya had to personally inspect and check with the engineers himself to ensure all his instruments were coming out clearly. He had a number of songs aborted midway through sound failure.
The sound was eventually sorted on an eventful night that had the three band shows kicking off well after 9:30 pm pissing off a number of fans.
An earlier church gathering at the same venue resulted in the sound engineers starting off late resulting in the cocktail of errors. Even as they were setting up there was a clash between Mukanya’s band members and the hired sound engineers.
“These guys from America think they know a lot and whatever is happening is not our problem, but now they are saying it is our problem, it is not,” said one local engineer.
In-style South African group Uhuru, who were scheduled to open the concert, arrived late as they had another commitment elsewhere.
This resulted in Jah Prayzah and his 3rd Generation band to start the proceedings. The youthful crooner mesmerised the fans who sang danced along throughout his performance.
Old songs such as Tsviriyo and Kupfumbura Mhute from his new release were well-received and after a two-hour performance fans were still clamouring for more. The energetic dancer’s left many spellbound with their well-choreographed moves.
After his performance the lanky artist admitted he was surprised by the warm reception.
“This is our fifth performance in South Africa, previous shows were not well-attended. I thank the promoters for the opportunity as it has given our band more exposure. There were people who came to see Mukanya but now they know who we are and what we can do,” said Jah.
Some fans could be seen leaving the venue after JP’s performance seemingly frustrated by the long wait before the next group was on stage.
Uhuru then came on stage and gave an hour long performance which had a lukewarm response from the fans who had started calling for Mukanya’s appearance. It was a race against time as it was after midnight and the venue was scheduled to close at 2am.
The Blacks Unlimited only came on stage after 1am after another long “soundcheck”
The house was filled with a loud applause as the ageing Mukanya strode onto the stage in his trademark black leather jacket and hat.
After the sound was fixed it was all systems go and Mukanya churned hit after hit especially the old tracks. He sent his fans down memory lane with tracks such as Madhebhura and Buka Tiende which had fans on their feet.
The show had to come to a close at 2:45am after only 8 songs were played. Most fans were visibly disappointed and felt short-changed by the abrupt cut as police details were beginning to come into the venue to forcibly close down.
Promoter Morris Musekiwa blamed the cocktail of disasters on the venue having been double-booked.
“It was an issue beyond our control, we were let down the last minute by the second booking which took longer than expected. Our apologies to all the fans as we have learnt our lessons,” said Musekiwa.
He admitted the first leg of the tour in Cape Town on Friday night had been a tremendous success in terms of attendance and organisation. H Metro