How Blessing Chimanga & Freshlyground Totally Floored us!
I wasn’t in the mood for a night out. The hermit within was at peace with a snuggle and series. But there I was, with an invite to the Nedbank hosted Freshlyground Concert featuring So Kindly and Blessing Chimanga. Because I knew you guys would have FOMO, I sacrificed my night in and went out to Jam Tree in Harare for the shindig this past Friday.
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I wasn’t quite sure of what to expect. Fuel queues around the city and prices doubling per hour had my crowd gauge a bit screwed up. But, when we got to the cool-kid hangout, Jam Tree, I was reminded of the unpredictable predictability of Harare’s night scene. See, Freshlyground had already opened for the Harare International Arts Festival earlier in the year, I grudgingly missed that performance (long story). I was uncertain about the second return of the band which was due to perform a third time in Zimbabwe this year at the Vic Falls Carnival too!
Let me bring some context; Freshly Ground broke into their international success in 2005 when a single from their second album titled Doo Be Doo fast became the most played song in South Africa! Their last studio album was released in 2013.
On that Friday night, nearly a thousand people crammed in The Jam Tree and parked their cars 4×4 style in the forgotten fields of the Mount Pleasant Sports Club.
We caught the tail end of So Kindly’s act and just then Blessing Chimanga animatedly made it onto the stage looking like a black gangster from the Great Gatsby. Feather in hat, bright yellow blazer on, he looked jazzy and warmed the audience with sing-alongs and antics. Blessing Chimanaga is undoubtedly multi-talented but. I learnt something new from watching him on stage that night.
Mans, is a friggin Entertainer!
I don’t mean roadside entertainment but the Broadway kind; his theatrics were a new experience for those of whom are used to only watching synchronised dance moves and hearing barely audible harmonies. Blessing Chimanga, I repeat is a fucking Entertainer! His band played beautifully together but, we could have gone without the obvious on-stage communication which was SUPER distracting.🙄
Mans had us, grown women doing the old-school hand games like Amina and Tomato Sauce. It was a lot to process, the crowd’s response and how Blessing was just owning us, basically. When he announced Freshlyground, I wasn’t ready for him to leave.
To a roar of applause Zolani, the South African band’s frontwoman made it to the stage opening with Pot Belly and Bob Marley’s Zimbabwe.
Zolani’s unusual vocals matched with the instruments of the very diverse make-up of Freshly Ground including Zimbabwean percussionist and Simon Attwell sounded like studio quality. With my eyes closed as they performed Doo be Doo, the song that most of the crowd sang along to the loudest; it was as if I had simply pressed play on the recorded version; absolutely freaking SEAMLESS!
It’s hard not to like Zolani, the lead singer…
First of all, with no disrespect, she is as cute as a button!
This may or may not have something to do with her small demeanour, her quirky style that featured chunks of jewellery and edgy haircut. Second to a list of the infinite is Zolani’s expressiveness and ability to draw her audience in. Every occasional wink or kisses to the crowd felt so personal like she was talking/singing/ winking and blowing kisses right at me, MAGIC!
Also, how could anyone forget the moment Zolani called Blessing Chimanga to duet on I’d like. Blessing’s Shona adlibs added some comedy to the intense love song by Freshlyground.
Although Freshlyground had toured across Europe, sold out stadiums and performed for the World Cup alongside Shakira; it is 2018 and one could easily consider them performance value aside, irrelevant.
It was anything but!
Closing off with Shake it and Waka Waka; Freshlyground gave a show that most needed, an overdose of positivity, upliftment and feel good vibes.
God knows Zimbabwe needs em!
Rob Macson closed off the show in the same line throwing us back with some old school Dance Music. A quarter into his set I was barefoot, hair dishevelled, my mood set on careless!
Yup, it was a good night.