Empire Entertainment’s Bottles and Bands 2016, which came off November 19 at the Accra Polo Grounds was at the very least, memorable. You missed it? Oh how!

They were obviously meticulously picked out –the flavorsome blend of old and contemporary performers for the evening. The concert was headlined by EL, Efya, Kojo Antwi, and Paapa Yankson. Supported by the dependable Afro Harmony Band, this unique assembly of top music acts did invoke a special kind of love amidst the delightful caress of the breeze and sky. I did have a good time last night.

The atmosphere was one of class, and the crowd was just the right size; a moderate good-natured group of devotees of wholesome music –live music. Like the line up, the audience was a lovely assortment from children to senior citizens. Indeed, the whole concept was outstanding – a carefully curated homey event consisting an outdoor lounge by day, and an unforgettable musical concert in the  night.

I thoroughly enjoyed the clean quality of the sound, the brilliant majesty off the stage and lights, the superior excellence with technical detail, the relaxed ambiance of the venue, the exemplary discipline with time, and indeed, the extraordinary musical awareness of patrons, especially with Kojo Antwi and Paapa Yankson.

Efya chose the live band right at the beginning of her career, and visibly enjoys that medium, because there’s a genuine smile behind her microphone all the time. That verve overflows into the audience, and that’s how her performances turn out so well. Also, she’s such as expert with vocal nuances, and that makes her a delight to listen to when one has the opportunity to see her perform live. Last night’s Efya was special.

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EL performs predominantly rap music, and rap music is not exactly associated with live band music. Indeed, some argue, that it could be more difficult to pull off a rap performance with a band. That discourse is for another day. All I’m saying is, you should have seen the VGMA Artist of the Year on show; being led by rich live melody to undertake extemporisation which simply sent the audience wild.

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What comradery EL has developed with his Elians (what he has christened his fan base), for his interaction to those people cheering him from below the stage was one to be envied. Both artist and fans are so conversant with each other’s temperament that it leads to superior smoothness with regards to his set. Especially with his recent shows, EL (born Elom Adablah) has left unforgettable impressions of the stages he has mounted. Like I’ve said elsewhere, there has been a renewal in his confidence; something which has purged him of even expected traces of anxiety. These days, nothing can go wrong when EL is on stage. Even when there are technical hitches, it is certain that EL will rock you. Simple. Yes, please, he executed his performance proficiently.

Music maestro Kojo Antwi’s live performances are rare…sometimes once in a whole year. He’s particular with the platform he mounts. And why not? Through 13 albums and several hit songs, Kojo Antwi has since 1986, made a name for himself as our most trusted crooner when it comes to matters of the heart –a true love doctor. When he got on stage in an all-white apparel, dreadlocks tied safely in a brown scarf, and no shoes on his feet, it was clear a messiah had just emerged. It appears that while he may be savior to all of us, he meets a special need with the fairer sex. The way these women behave when Kojo Antwi is on stage is something.

We all know Kojo Antwi’s songs. Some of them, we associate to our own love stories. They are among the best songs we’ve heard any Ghanaian sing, ever. And on stage, he affects our emotions just as successfully. His bandsmen too, enjoyed themselves very much. Like the crowd they were serving, they too were jumping and boogying, also immersed in the experience they were designing. They too, were captives to his spell.

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Even Paapa Yankson, when he mounted the stage, extolled Kojo’s predominant theme of love, and how it was the solution to all things. He too had been struck.

Paapa Yankson the legend’s session was without doubt, the most soul-stirring. Beginning his set by confessing that it he had “bolted from hospital” to be present, he set off into a capella versions of some of his classics, pausing repeatedly to sermonize about peace and restraint, before inviting Afro Harmony in.

A recent ailment has disrupted motor function in his feet, leaving him to move about in a wheelchair. Unruffled by his current condition, Mr. Yankson, 72, presented a charismatic performance which inspired an outpouring of love toward him. Even after turning in some 15 albums, Paapa Yankson’s voice remains unscathed, if anything, has been enriched with age—that deeply moving tenor which has mirrored in his songs, various aspects of our lives since co-founding the famous Western Diamonds Band. Yaaba, Wiase Mu Nsem, Show Your Love, Wo Yere Anaa Wo Maame, and Tena Menkyen; his lovely duet with Pauline Oduro, are perhaps the most popular form his enviable pool of songs.

Every few minutes in his performance, talented on-air personality Giovani, who served as MC for the night, would interrupt and make an announcement of donations from corporate bodies and individuals who could not hold back their love for the highlife icon. Amounts donated on the night circled around some GHC 50, 000. Applause kept flowing, and Paapa Yankson was without doubt, overwhelmed by the outpouring of compassion. The mood was surreal, and we were part of it. We were truly in the presence of a great.

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I love my job, because it  both affords and requires me to be witness to such moments as these, which are instructive illustrations of what a beautiful people we are. These moments -these experiences-you can never forget.

Like I said, I had a good time last night.

 

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