Oh, what a night! Sungura icon Alick Macheso on Friday settled matters with a sold-out gig and capped it with a stellar performance that left many in awe when he launched his 11th album, Dzinosvitsa Kure, at Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex.
By Moses Mugugunyeki and Takemore Mazuruse
Trends in the local arts industry indicated that Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex had become a nightmare for many music promoters and any hopes of getting a decent crowd were remote, even for a music god like Macheso.
However, on Friday the high-flying sungura giant defied the odds with a vintage act at a show that capped his music life.
One of Macheso’s longest-serving band members and sound engineer, Morgan Mapeta, reckons the last time such a crowd was recorded at the venue was in 1998 during a Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi joint show.
“We have not witnessed such a big crowd at Aquatic Complex even during our touted Orchestra Mberikwazvo days when showbiz was one of the most happening enterprises in town,” he said.
“If my memory serves me well, the last such gig I witnessed here was a Mukanya-Tuku show back in 1998.”
Like the Macheso of old, the sungura kingpin dazzled as he churned out a mix of his latest offerings and old-time hits that made him a household name.
Not even the sound glitches and crowd trouble that was a result of a venue filled to capacity could dampen Macheso’s top-drawer act and one of the high profile guests at the show, South Korean ambassador to Zimbabwe, Cho Jaichel, gave the sungura maestro the kudos.
Jaichel, who was left gazing as Macheso played the bass guitar with, among other body parts, his teeth and even strumming it with a towel, said the star would be performing in South Korea at a festival they are planning.
The sungura-loving diplomat, who blessed Macheso with a celebratory cake, danced the night away until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
With the show starting way after schedule owing to a rather sceptical winter crowd, Macheso protégé Faheem Somanje warmed the stage with an inspiring performance that proved he is learning a lot from the sungura megastar, who took him under his wings following the death of his father, Daiton.
Somanje then left the stage to a fired-up Leonard Zhakata, who mesmerised music lovers with a classy act that had the crowd eating from his hands.
Seeing that time was racing against the programme, the master of ceremonies for the day Kanyemba Bhonzo and Ollah Madondo, both radio Djs, tried to get Zhakata off the stage, but the crowd would have none of it.
They clamoured for a Mugove performance to which the two radio men wisely agreed and Zhakata wound off his performance before leaving the stage for Sniper Storm.
Dressed in army fatigues, Musoja, as Sniper is known in music circles managed his own, especially performing after a lively Zhakata.
Where many dancehall acts would have suffered can-throwing, Sniper, backed by a live band, proved why he is one of the most respected local dancehall artistes.
Jah Prayzah with his backing group, Third Generation, then demonstrated the highest level of music camaraderie with a sweet and powerful performance that left the crowd asking for more.
His drills and vocal prowess was at its usual best and the only low of his performance was when his backing vocalist Excavator hobbled off the stage with a pulled muscle.
He was joined on stage by Macheso for the birthday song before calling it a day.
Then it was time for the festivities as friends and family took time to celebrate Macheso’s three-tier event.
Youth, Sports and Recreation minister Kazembe Kazembe had the task of delivering the keynote address to a restive crowd that didn’t take easily to his clenched fist “Chiutsi Utsi” chant.
Various corporates that partnered Orchestra Mberikwazvo in making the event a success then took turns to bid for the CD and celebrate with him.
Notable bids were by man of the cloth Madzibaba Masango, who bought the CD for $2 500, and music promotion company Alphatronix, who bought the CD for $3 000.
One of the event’s key sponsors, Kitchenlink CEO and founder Richard Muchaka, said they would be unveiling an exciting package highlighting their partnership with Macheso.
Other prominent people, including former Warriors captain Willard Katsande who flew all the way from South Africa, transport businessman Regis Munenzva and other known Macheso followers from Mozambique also showered him with gifts and presents.
Orchestra Mberikwazvo management also took the occasion to honour one of its longest-serving band members, Charles Chembe, who has been with the sungura outfit for 20 years.
Prominent chanter Jonas Kasamba, who was at his usual best, was also mentioned for his 17 years’ service, among other key band members.
As soon as the CD bids and gift showering ended, Macheso then proved the quality of his new album is no fluke as he belted it with mastery that left many wondering if he was under a spell or in a trance.
It appeared releasing the album two days before the actual launch worked the magic as fans could easily sing along to the new songs even calling for encores.
Demonstrating how high he is on confidence, Macheso danced, ululated and smiled all night long even allowing the young Muchapedza Matsito, son of struggling fellow musician Tediuos Matsito who can no longer perform due to ill health, a cameo appearance during his performance.
The young man showed great character with renditions of his father’s hit songs like Gede and another Macheso praise song.
The crowd just loved him and showered him with cash.
An emotional Macheso then revealed he would be recording the young man at his Alema Studios before breaking down and going off the stage only to come back after 20 minutes of his backing group’s performance.
The sungura star then played on until daylight and fans could be seen trooping out of Aquatic Complex with smiles of satisfaction.
Macheso performs at a family show at Extra Mile in Harare today at Pick n’ Save in Mutare and he is expected to share cakes that were unveiled at the Friday night gig with his fans.