Barely three years on Uganda’s music scene, Priscilla Zawedde, better known by her stage name Azawi, hit a difficult road for rising artistes on Friday night with a short career-spanning extravaganza at the Zoe Grounds in Lugogo.
For many, it was easy to say the concert came too early but in an industry where it’s commonplace to organize a concert with one single, Azawi’s two projects (the dance-heavy African Music especially which was also the concert theme) lend themselves to the live experience and beg to be consumed outside of siloed listening.
Azawi made sure to touch all corners of her small but packed discography, going from streaming behemoths like “Party Mood” and “Quinamino” which elicited high-energy responses from the crowd, to slowing it down, particularly at the intros for “Repeat It” and “Slow Dancing”.
The sheer scope of the performance – and the numbers at the ground – became most apparent when Azawi asked fans to turn on their phone flashes before diving into the last act of the night, “Majje”.
Dancehall star Karole Kasita, rising stars Martha Mukisa, Aroma, Zex Bilangilangi, Pia Pounds as well as Grenade Official and Pinky who performed their hit single Picha got the crowd ready for the main act.
The Queen of Vibes, clad in all white, took the stage and started off with her hit single “My Year” and right away webbed in the fans who loudly sang along.
On her second act of the night, “Crazy Lover”, the band cascaded through Reggae, Ragga, and Soul leading into my favourite off the African Music album “Gimme” which was smoothly done thanks to the supporting vocals from the two backup singers.
Is a night in Kampala complete without some Amapiano? Probably not… Of course “Ache For You” had to set the tone for the remainder of the concert as fans continuously shouted her name.
After catching a little breather, it was time to slow things down a little.“Craving Heavy”, “Tubatisa” and “Mbinyumirwa” did just that as fans sang along word-for-word.
The tempo was again raised with “Quinamino” that the band gave a zouk touch and some rumba solo towards the end as was the case for “Ku Kido” and “Bamututte”.
Azawi’s erotic ad libs leading up to “Fwa Fwa Fwa” probably caught everyone by surprise but served as an excellent opener to what turned out to be one of the best songs on the night.
The show presented a bit of nostalgia when Benon and Vampos performed “I Know” and proclaimed a successful career for the young singer before A Pass stepped on to continue the reggae-dancehall vibe starting with “Face Me” with Azawi.
All local artistes recognize how great Radio was and Azawi is no different. She paid tribute to the fallen singer alongside Weasel and Viboyo as they teamed up on “Nyumbani”.
Winnie Nwagi set up the last phase of the concert nicely. After performing her latest single “Malaika” with the Star of the Night throwing in a couple of lines, Fire Baby displayed some of her raw energy while performing “Fire Dancer” which was fused with Chaka Demus & Pliers classic “Murder She Wrote” rounding off with bum bubbling that her fans feed off, and none can carp at her six-minute performance.
The stage went dark for a couple of minutes and shortly on the two large LED screens Azawi told her story and the creation of “African Music”. That was the start of the last phase which saw her perform “Loving is Easy”, “Lo Fit”, “Repeat It”, “Slow Dancing”, “Party Moody” and “Majje”.
Overwhelmed by the turn-up for her show, Azawi expressed her gratitude throughout the night. “Mwebale kunjagala bwemuti… Nange mbagala nnyo mu lo fit,” she said as the band started on the intro for her EP lead single “Lo Fit” on which she explored her vocal range.
“Repeat It” was given a contemporary African soul start but closed out t like a Buganda folk song and it was only right to invite a few fans onto the stage for some “Slow Dancing”.
The fans who made their way to the ground were there to party and Azawi made the most of “Party Mood”, probably the best of the night before wrapping up with a dazzling, energetic, and lit performance of “Majje” with Fik Fameica.