AliveFest 2013 Through The Scope
It is said there is nothing in the world so much like prayer as music is, and for one who attended AliveFest 2013, this adage certainly holds true on all counts.
With the event scheduled on Uganda’s 51st Independence anniversary, the timing was right for a celebratory gospel music extravaganza featuring some of Uganda’s finest worship teams, artists, DJs, instrumentalists and seasoned producers on the gospel music scene, all showcased at Worship Harvest Ministries, Naalya on the evening of Wednesday 9th. At close scrutiny, the ensemble particularly boasted of hits Sami K, Ruyonga, Coopy Bly, Lynnete, Pragmo, Price Love, Rolec choir, Talent, Moses Mukisa and friends and the host worship team, all set to deliver a bouquet of genres in what turned out to be an enthralling mix.
For starters, the stage set up was striking, standard and elaborately accessorised with LED lights, with a black backdrop to which an overhead LED screen was mounted. Then there was the theatrical smoke that added a touch of mystique and livened the lights, creating an impressive spectacle. The stationed DJ Isaac set a warm prelude to the event with a selection that got the audience comfortable and set for the main do. A few minutes late from the scheduled start, the Joint team of performers walked onto stage, had the national Anthem sung and did Come which was a sort of Alive Fest Anthem.
Sami K then came on with a dancehall Full hundred to which the crowd did not need an invitation to dance. He maintained this tempo through Oli Mulungi and generally his was a diverse performance that ranged from exciting to contemplative, both spiritually enriching.
Then came Redeemed of the Lord Evangelistic Church (ROLEC) choir with variant exhilarating gospel praise, highly engaging. Through pieces Belong to you, Tukwebaza Nyo and Arise, the vocal richness of the group was pronounced and this carried on to the apogee with Siyabonga and the applauded My God is good oh.
Price Love, needing no introduction, set about doing soul with a sedate demeanour with the band for accompaniment, and the vocal prowess was evident throughout her pieces. Moreover, the way she infuses her music with rich gospel texts adds potency and effectively delivers a heart-searching message. This was the impression as one listened to Nakuhitaji, Imela and off-the album hits Don’t give up, Your day and In His Image and this experience was richer as one could sing along, thanks to the lyrics projected.
The pendulum swung, vibrancy came in the form of Coopy Bly with hard hitting-dance inducing music spinning straight off the DJ’s table with ample sound effects. It is simply amazing how he gets the crowd worked up and engaged in his exciting dance strokes and this kind of energy spurned his entire stint.
Lynette a worship leader and song writer did the following session with the WHM worship team, and the pieces were predominantly contemporary praise and worship. The performance through pieces Magnify the Lord to Natamba was electric and well harmonized, creating a wonderful worship experience.
Pragmo came on next accompanied by band and first did a piece with a Keytar which was undoubtedly magnificent and the melodies created were pleasantly complemented by great sound. He arguably climaxed with a blues piece in which he played keyboard accompanied by a bass guitarist and drummer, delivering a blend of sophisticated absolute music, the kind that so easily sends the mind to a lull and plasters a sheepish smile on the face involuntarily. That said, the accompanying instrumentalists were equally adept, bringing the composition home.
Coopy Bly got back with another energetic piece after which he introduced Ruyonga and the two did rap with Coopy backing up. Ruyonga took centre stage with the kind of lyrical prowess that underlined his stint and the DJ was once again on cue. It is hard placing a finger on his best piece as they equally delivered exciting swinging sounds that got one’s toes tapping and he concluded with the boisterous Tutuuse much to the delight of the crowd.
Variety makes great concerts and at times this comes in the form of upcoming artists, as was the case when Talent got to stage, backed up by Price. He took the audience through a fast paced contemporary praise Sing Hallelujah, incredibly sounding great with a smooth alto as he strummed guitar and was complemented by the band. He slowed the tempo in his next piece Comfort & Love a captivating soul composition with nice lyrics and guitar melodies. He possibly climaxed his performance with Bright like Sunshine a fast tempo cheerful sing-along piece and was adeptly complemented by the rest of the band. He put up the kind of performance one would associate with more experienced artists, and that was a very BIG plus.
Then there was Moses Mukisa and friends with the popular gospel concert band music. He set about with vibrant rhythms of Voice of Triumph to which the audience was apt and then Mukama mulungi. The tempo gradually slowed through Must have been Love and Love Affair which were exceptional, and overall it was matured and engaging performance all through with excellent back up vocalists, subtle instrumentalists and complemented with great sound and colourful stage lighting.
The WHM team then performed a series of sing-along praise pieces towards the closure of what doubled as a great show as well as nourishing worship experience. The curtain call was creatively done with all artists of the evening, vocalists and instrumentalists doing a praise piece and thereafter receiving rounds of applause from the audience as they came off stage.
This exciting and occasionally witty concert was generally dynamic as the audience was treated to a range of genres. Couple this with the uninterrupted and rather roller coaster flow of the music and you had a lively concert from start to finish testament to the efforts placed on rehearsals and general organization. The sound was exceptional and the stage set up was justly done. Perhaps the only glitches in an almost flawless event were the crowd which was a touch dismal and at best average in number, quite a shocker! Albeit, what the crowd lacked in number, it compensated with zeal as was evident in the numerous cheerful ululations throughout the event. Then there was the stage which on occasion was crowded, blocking out some band members and hence affecting the picturesqueness and general stage set. Broadly put, this concert got less than it deserved and was worth much more than the ticket value.
Lyn Bowles is quoted as saying, ‘The first business of the church is not evangelism, nor missions, nor fellowship; it is worship.’’ Whereas the term worship encompasses more than just music, Worship Harvest Ministries for the evening of 9th October created the environment in which prayer took on the form of joyous praise-worship, and this can only get better given the great potential.