When Blacks invaded North Again

After two years, the reggae outfit TheBlack Missionaries toured the Northern Region again. Did the people in theregion miss them? Were they up to the mark?

The first show on the Mzuzu tour on thenight of November 4, 2011 at Key Lounge which preceded the Mzuzu Hotel BomaPark show on November 5 afternoon proved the same fact that the band stillholds sway.
The record turn-out in the two eventstalked volume of what respected the band is in the region even in the face ofbeing glossed over by the band which never gave a plausible reason for a 2 yeargap that the region had to endure with.
The northern region in general and Mzuzu inparticular is still considered as the backwater. Even the region’s own MtebetiWambali Mkandawire chose to launch his ‘Liberty’ elsewhere and never repeatedthe act anywhere near the centre where he is now doing his missionary work.
Let me not digress, but talk the BlacksTour in the north; the band showed that it is still as tight as ever in termsof performance.
This is one of the only few bands that seemto take the audience down the road they are very familiar with. It manages tolight the dancing floor with fire and douse it whenever necessary, more so whenpeople are on the verge of collapse with over excitement. The band alsorekindles the fire when only ambers are visible.
Meaning, they have realised they have thepower of drugs to an addict. They know when to give a fix and how well topunish the addict.
Apparently, they seem to be so serious withwhat they intend to dish out so much so that they tell you that they weretraining before bringing the music on. Chumbu, Moda Fumulani, Anthony ‘Mr.Cool’ Makondetsa and the band seem to be talking one and the same language.
Of course at Key Lounge, a big letdown wasthe size of the venue and even the down pour which found its way right on thedance floor even when it hitherto boast of a roof above.
The art of chaining a number of singswithout faltering and denying the audience of quality was also evident on thetour, which but exposed the band’s rigidity to play only what they practicemaking you want to attend a single show and decide not to attend any subsequentone because you know their act.
Why live shows are called live, is becausethey somehow tend to be experimental moments for the band. It is risky ofcourse but worth trying because this is what has pushed bands to the stardom.The reason lead vocalist says “take it down,” only when it has started isbecause it is live.
Anthony Makondetsa tries it with ‘Mbumba yaAbraham’ but it looks over rehearsed and steals the thunder it is supposed toeffect on the audience.
The Key Lounge tour also revealed to theregion that Chizondi the master keyboardist for the Blacks has come of age.This was apparent when everyone was surprised when Anjiru moved back on thebacking queue when his young sibling took charge berried out “Pamene tiyenda muMthunzi wa imfa; sindizaopa zowopyazo, Yesu zandigwira zanja”…
Yes, with this track which I always say wasMsamude’s parting shot and how Chizondi handles it reminds me of Gramps Morganand how he juxtaposed his leading vocal charge with that of the front man Peter‘Peta’ Morgan.
I would not want to talk about the audienceresponse at Key Lounge because of the influence that alcohol had over theaudience. Anything was danceable although on a few occasions; legs would beseen hanging in the air because the sound could just cut off or because onedrunkard had decided to jump on a speaker as a sign of excitement, which thespeaker would not take kindly as it crashed down with such a crazy imbiber.
Talk of the Mzuzu Hotel Boma Park show;very few would be seen dancing at times, while many more would be seenappreciating the musicality oozing out of the band as it played, reminding meof how the Dutch audience is taken spell bound my performances in a musicalhall in Amsterdam of Salif Keitha for example, when they miss out on what thelyrics are saying but not what the music is communicating.
Like I argued when the band released Kuimba8, I still would reiterate my position on the band’s output.
The show was still apparent that the BlackMissionaries still continue a journey started by founder Evison Matafale whichwas taken over by Msamude when Matafale fell and taken over now by Anjiru whenhis elderly brother equally fell as well.
I should believe very soon we will haveKuimba 9 and this is the time the current Blacks should attempt to stir veryfar away from their traditional songs.

Last time I said when you are listening tothe tracks from a distance where you are missing out on what the lyrics aresaying, you are bound to think this is one of the many old tracks from theblacks.
And yet these are the new songs that are same old, same old.

One thing that is very clear is theclinging to the template that Matafale and later, Msamude created.

Anjiru and kid brother Chizondi, PeterAmidu and brothers Takudziwani and Paul Chokani need to rethink their futurewith the forthcoming Kuimba albums.
This is the time to dismantle theMatafale/Msamude template and come up with their creativity.
Today I still ask the same question as towhy people flock to Black Missionaries performances.
 Isit more to do with their pedigree that separates them from the competitors fullof mediocrity, than it has to do with whether they are progressive musically ornot?
With the Mzuzu tour they proved otherwiseand I hope Kuimba 9 will say the same.

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