Wailing Brothers is a sweet bowl of experience and discovery; a typical case of old guns facing new blood.
Rejuvenated high on hopes, the Chileka-based band has quickly showed that it is also high on character, though it [the band] is apparently low on humour— something public performers in the entertainment industry must be good at.
This was the case at New Club 21 in Liwonde, Machinga, from Saturday evening to the wee hours of Sunday.
The music party started with a jam session, where old songs were played and revered, before Mu Israel Arnod Fumulani took his turn on the stage. He was serious— perhaps too serious— from the word go, punctuating his performance with passionate, endless singing and jumping. He delivered a masterful, humourless performance, performing ‘Mbalame’, ‘Mlekeni’, ‘Anabwerera’ and ‘Sindikugona’ before making the proverbial bow.
Being the first on the stage, he was the proverbial early bird having a go at the unfortunate, early worm. Only that he was serving a hot, high tempo dish of music to those lucky enough to be there in Liwonde.
“I have a message, important message, for these times to share. I, therefore, took the opportunity to share what I have. There is no time to waste. The audience reception was good,” Arnod said, sweating.
He can be forgiven for being humourless.
The stage itself left nothing for the amusement of the eyes. There were no spot lights. In fact, only one stage light lit the stage from the left, far left, corner of the stage. On the floor, a lonely disco light planted cream-like rays of light on the ceiling but, that aside, there was no smoking machine to play tricks on patrons minds.
After Arnod, Wailing Brothers lead guitarist and vocalist, Takudziwani Chokani, took his turn on the stage. He delved straight into the 14-truck Unfinished Business album, which has tracks such as ‘Mwatero ndi Inu’, ‘Afritune’, ‘Levi’, ‘Sindidzakusiya’, ‘Everything is Gonna be Alright’, ‘Tikudikira Munthuyo’, ‘Munditsogolere’, ‘Nkhawa Bii’, Hungry Tiger, ‘Dzuka’, ‘Sing a Song’, ‘I Love My Guitar’, ‘Hallelujah’ and ‘Levi’ [dub version].
The first thing Takudziwani did was to allude to the fact that Wailing Brothers is a bowl of experience and exploration.
“We have youngsters. We are supporting these youngsters these days and we give them the platform. Please, support them too,” Takudziwani said.
He might have been referring to up-and-coming artists such as Chikumbutso Simbi and Paul Kalumbi.
He, then, delved into serious business, dishing out songs such as ‘‘Everything is Gonna be Alright’, ‘I Love My Guitar’, ‘Sindidzakusiya’, ‘Mwatero ndi Inu’, among others. The audience responded positively to such songs.
The only challenge facing Wailing Brothers is services of a lead vocalist for, at times, the lead vocalist seemed to be gloating, other than singing. But, then, is this [gloating] not what wailing is all about?
Again, one patron who had travelled all the way from Lilongwe to be part of the show raised complaints over the venue. As Takudziwani sang, the patron, Innocent Chioko, was busy making his voice heard to The Daily Times.
“I like their performance. The only drawback is that, in my view, they choose a place that cannot accommodate children. They should have chosen a place where families would be free to patronise the show.
“Otherwise, they are better than The Black Missionaries. They are better than the Black Missionaries in the sense that Wailing Brothers play real roots [songs] and have varied messages while The Black Missionaries seem to have lost direction and focus too much on love,” Chioko said.
Others who took to the stage were Toza Matafale— who played the late Evison Matafale’s songs, among them ‘Time Mark’, ‘Freedom’ and ‘Yang’ana Nkhope’— before playing his own compositions— and Moda Fumulani, who stormed the stage at 12: 24 am.
As usual, he started his performance with brother Gift’s songs, including ‘Mphamvu Yake’ and ‘Ndikuchita Mantha’.
But it did not matter whose turn it was, Paul Chokani concentrated on the drums— occasionally turning his head upwards to look at, not the audience, but the other band members. It is true that, while he is engrossed with happenings-on on the stage, Paul is a man who lives in his own world.
In the end, he, too, missed what Wailing Brothers band members, their manager, and the patrons missed. The truth is that Wailing Brothers were playing on dangerous grounds: An Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) overheard bare wire line passed directly over the stage, floating gently some four metres in the darkness that engrossed the stage.
Escom lines are of many types. There is the 3 phase type, which has four bare wire lines but distributes electric power to houses and mills and other 3 phase [power supply] customers via twin black wire. The 3 phase line carries 400 volts.
Then, there are single phase lines. These are found on poles that carry two wires, and a single phase line is a carrier of power in the range of 220 to 250 volts.
And the rules are clear: An Escom pole must stand erect at a distance of 10 metres radius minimum to almost 100 metres in the case of high voltage lines. In terms of voltage, there are high voltage, medium voltage and low voltage supply wires, which differ in thickness and durability.
But it seems Wailing Brothers do not know anything about this, and played dangerously for hours on end— eyes fixed on the patrons and, not once, in the sky to see the dangerous wires floating in the clear, ‘moonful’ sky above!
Wailing Brothers were in danger without knowing it and would do better to watch out against such things in future.
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