I missed June Gachui’s launch concert, unfortunately, of her album, developed and nourished over a 20-year musical career, and I deeply regretted this error in my financial planning. Fortunately, I had a chance to see her live and in living colour at Motown in Nairobi, which took place (on a dark stormy night) at The Hub, in Karen. The last time I was at Motown, which was a rather long time ago, it was at Village Market. They seem to favour the far flung locales over the CBD, neh?
June is already a force of nature by herself, but when coupled with a few other acts on stage, the effect was breath-taking. When we go to the open air area at 7 pm, when the concert was supposed to start, only the chairs were set up – the Roast by Carnivore, their food and drink partner, were just setting up near the stage, and the early birds had started on their alcoholic beverages.
Unfortunately, the show did not start until 9 pm, which was terribly inconveniencing, not to mention annoying. Those rushing to the concert so as to not miss seats (such as myself) felt very put out by the waiting period. I felt particularly bad for the mothers in the audience who came with their exhausted children. And as for me, well, man cannot live on one drink alone while waiting for a show and all that, so there went a dent in ye olde wallet.
But once the show got started, it blew me away. The line-up was spectacularly chosen, from a dynamic Chris Bittok (He sings! He dances! He saxes!), to the gifted Edward Parseen of the Different Faces band (and the members were present as well), to falsetto specialist Victor Muli who thrilled the crowd with a body that seemed to have been taken over by Prince and Marvin Gaye simultaneously, down to the sheer clothing! -, to the throaty-voiced Neema Ntalel, sounding stupefyingly smoky over a Smokey Robinson track…Kendi Nkonge, who I have never heard before, wowed me with her ad libs over a Mariah Carey cover, alongside the slick David Hunter, who pretended to be overwhelmed by her vocals until you heard him pour suave across the microphone with his rendition of "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours" by Stevie Wonder. And of course, Denise Gordon and her electric performing, and Dela, of "Mama Papa" and "Weche Tek" fame, added the old school diva flavour to the whole night, with hits like "For the Love of Money" and "Upside Down".
The night ended with an ensemble performance of "All Night Long", which is exactly how long we wished these singers (and the wonderfully costumed and talented dancers) would have lasted. I am looking forward to the next one. Start saving – an advance ticket cost KES2500, and you don’t want to miss out, instead of having to read to the end of this article and still not know what it was like to be blessed by all that Motown Magic.