I was so delighted when I heard Kojo was going to stage a concert this year. But I was almost disappointed when I heard where he was planning to stage it.
“Accra Mall?” I asked. “How the heck is he going to pull that off?”
Despite my scepticism I showed up for the show at the Accra Mall because, for me, whenever and wherever Kojo Antwi sings, I’d rush to go have a listen. And I wasn’t disappointed at all.
The set up was not as fancy as I know Kojo would have loved it to be had the show been staged at the National Theatre. But he made the best of what he had and there wasn’t a single technical hitch. The sound was a blast of quality and clarity, something you hardly get at the National Theatre. And lighting was beautiful. I particularly enjoyed those sporadic flares of colourful lights from the torches atop the stage pillars.
The stage at the mall’s food court was quite small but there was enough room for the ‘mapouka’ chicks to do their thing. By the way, I didn’t go with my wife – she chose to stay home and rest, having partied long and hard on the eve of Christmas Eve – so I could watch all the ‘mapouka tremors’ without batting an eye. Don’t worry, she won’t read this and she will never know if you don’t tell her!
Before the ‘mapouka’ Ohemaa Mercy impressed me a great deal with her performance. As I watched her, it dawned on me that gospel acts are better at live performances than the secular ‘musicians’ – that is if you count people like Tiny and Tic Tac as musicians. Ohemaa Mercy belted out her tunes with such verve that I decided that whenever she decides to stage a concert of her own, I’d surely like to see it. What impressed me most was that she sampled some of the rhythms of my favourite reggae artiste, Lucky Dube, and fused them very brilliantly with two of her most popular songs.
Before Ohemaa Mercy, though, Morris Babyface, a very talented musician, pissed off the crowd so much when he started telling some lewd homophobic tales. He thought he was joking but the crowd wouldn’t have any of that. I also didn’t get the head or tail of what he was talking about and I gladly joined the others to boo him off the stage. This, sadly, was after he had played the piano with such finesse and sung a beautiful Christmas carol. Someone should kindly tell Morris to stick to the music. Better still, if he wants to tell jokes, he should keep the very explicit ones within his inner circle.
I think the Guinean gal, Kamaldine, also did a very marvellous job. I like her style and she reminded me so much of someone… If you want to know who, ask my friend Akwasi Sarpong!
After Kamaldine, we had to endure a lot of suspense as we waited for Kojo Antwi. Just when we thought the legend was getting up on stage, the MC, Kwesi Kyei Darkwa (KKD), decided that we should go “stretch” our legs. It was a break we didn’t need.
When we got back to our seats, Kojo Antwi came on stage at about 20 past midnight. And there was no stopping him. He performed for three straight hours. The good thing about a Kojo Antwi concert is that he’s playing some of the most popular tunes by a Ghanaian musician, songs we love to hear and sing, but they don’t sound exactly as they are on CD. That’s what live musical concerts are supposed to be about? Not what we have to endure at almost every ‘concert’ in this country where we are forced to tolerate a bunch of ragamuffins miming to their own tunes, jumping around like little rabbits and holding their crotches. Kojo is different and that’s why I’ve vowed that if it’s within my means I will not miss any of his concerts for anything!
I have seen many of Kojo’s live performances but this year’s was exceptional because it was more interactive. He was close to the audience and the longer he engaged with them, the more he ‘flowed’. As the crowd danced and sang along, he seemed to be having a very good time of his own and I got the impression that he didn’t want the show to end. It was very strange that it was the audience which was rather craving for the show to end – not because they were bored but because it had been a very long night and they had been excited enough.
Midway through his performance, Kojo decided to surprise the audience with one of the most prolific musicians of old – Dr Paa Bobo. He sang one of my most favourite highlife tunes – ‘Fa wonsa bewo meni’ (poke your finger in my eye). “It doesn’t matter if I die for love,” Bobo sang in Twi. It was a wonderful performance, which reminded me so much of those GBC Radio 2 days when there was a programme called ‘Guitar Band Stand’.
At the end of Paa Bobo’s performance, Kojo called Kamaldine back on stage for a high-tempo duet, which saw the Guinean chanteuse shaking her meagre assets. It was all in good fun. When Kojo took over again, he declared that he wasn’t ready to sleep. KKD responded that there were people in the audience who actually had places to lay their heads, yearning to go home. That was when Kojo started drawing the curtain on what turned out to be one of his best performances ever.
I am glad I was a part of it. It was the best present I got this season. Thanks, Kojo. I can’t wait for the next one.