On the night, Burna Boy confirmed his status as the Giant on the continent while M.anifest and the rest of artistes on the night gave meaning to showmanship
The applause was resounding. The audience were lively and responsive, pulsating with infectious bout of energy. The artistes met the goodwill of the audience, offering back the love with great performances on the night. And, when the top headliner of the night came on stage for his 35 minute set, the expectant crowd reaction was a beholding sight.
MANIFESTIVITIES, the annual event hosted and headlined by Ghanaian rapper M.anifest has come to stay. The fourth edition came off this past weekend- December 22 – at the Bukom Boxing Arena. (The second year running where the venue has hosted the show). The four hour event had Burna Boy as the headliner with Adekunle Gold playing the supporting role. Along with notable Ghanaian artistes, the night was one to relish.
The evening’s proceedings begun with a warm-up DJ set. DJ K3V, Eff The DJ and DJ Neizer made sure the audience got entertained. The MC for the night, Kojo Manuel confirmed why he is, arguably, the best MC in the country as far as MCing concerts are concerned. He held the show down, ensuring there were no dull moments. He, along with the DJs, could have played for the whole night and the audience without complaining. One interesting observation I made on the night was how the warm up sets revealed the age dynamics of the audience. Songs like Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” and “Swag On” by Soulja Boy drew loud cheers from folks aged between 27- 40, while tracks like “Intro” by DaBaby, and LaMeme Gang’s “Godzilla” exposed the youthful exuberance of a section of the crowd.
By the time the first act was introduced, the audience were energized and full of expectations. Yung Pabi, the first performer kept the excitement switch on with his theatre informed stagecraft. I have seen Yung Pabi on stage a number of times with similar stage set. But, each time had felt unique, refreshing and more exciting. Except for his ‘I talk to myself’ comment as a way to handling depression, everything checked out for him, especially the magnetic performance of “Working”. Award winning rapper Kula showed up, performed a few of his notable records thus sustaining the already joyful haze within the Bukom Boxing Arena.
Gyakie being a guest performer on the night made sense if you consider how M.anifest had been supportive of young artistes. However, on the night, she could not work the crowd. Her set lacked the vigour to match the ‘extreme madness’ Kojo Manuel and the DJs had left prior to her entrance. Gyakie looked great on stage in her white and black stripped dress. She put up a very decent performance but it was not enough to wow anyone. If there are any positives for her to take home, it was found in Cina Soul’s set. A short, well choreographed, engaging and seamless craftsmanship was what Cina Soul served. Clearly, the years of experience, albeit short per showbiz standards, has built Quincyna up for .
I was not in doubt about Ko-Jo Cue having a good set. What I did not see coming was him performing with a live band, the sensational Musical Lunatics. Opening his set with a rendition of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” and “Dua” off his latest album “For My Brothers”, the BBnZ signee made sure he marveled on stage. His confidence was ripe, his composure was elegant and his interaction exposed what years of being on stage had added to his overall on stage demeanour. The Musical Lunatics were splendid on the night and Boyd, the lead singer of the band (for the night) vindicated my love for him when he helped Cue perform “Never Mind”.
Worlasi was undoubtedly the second best performer on the night. Running through a gamut of hit songs taken from his “The Man & The god” album, the non-definable artiste won over the concertgoers who had gathered at the venue. Songs like “Fokoo”, ” Okwasia”, “Nukuta”, “Animate” and the crowd pleasing “You Saw Me” and ” Booze High”. Backed by Senku Live, Worlasi wrapped up his night with “We All Go Die”. On stage, Worlasi does not look human. He looks like a man whose body get inhabited by a super spirit.
“Ghana is the 5th country in the world that streamed my music [this year]”. Adekunle Gold, the Nigerian highlife artiste and husband to the talented singer, Simi told the crowd in-between performances. Dressed in a sea blue kaftan and dreadlocks falling at shoulder length, the mercurial singer hit the stage at quarter past midnight. Among the songs he performed were “Ire”, “My Life” and “Kelegbe Megbe”. Adekunle’s chilled demeanour was prominent on the night, but that was more of an asset than a liability. He was classy in his performance and moved impressively on stage.
Though this was not his first time performing in Ghana, it was, perhaps the first time this diverse audience were seeing him. The loud cheer he received was a confirmation that he nailed his set. But, if a comparison is to be made with what his wife Simi did last year, Adekunle Gold paled. Simi was more fun, more engaging and more enchanting to watch. As a first time watcher of Adekunle Gold, I would pay to go see him the next time he’s in Ghana.
Draped in a sharp, vintage looking double-breasted dark suit and a matching hat took over the stage after Adekunle Gold at exactly 12:56 AM. In the darkened stage arose M.anifest with a violinist, a 5-man backing band called The MOOD. “Rapper 101” was his opening song, followed by a string of hits including “The Gamble” with Bayku. He would invite Kelvyn Boy on for their collaborative joint “Yawa No Dey”. Kelvyn would do a short rendition of his hit song “Mea” to my disappointment. I was expecting a full performance from him.
Concert Review: In The End, M.anifest And Music Won At “Manifestivities”
M.anifest would call on stage the African Giant, Burna Boy to perform the politically edifying “Another Story”. Though a politically toned record, it’s performance was more celebratory. The two would also perform “Tomorrow”, the love-tinged single off “The Gamble” before Burna Boy seized the stage to dish out countless rounds of vibes.
The relationship between M.anifest and Burna Boy makes an interesting reading. A year ago when Burna came down for “Manifestivities”, he had no song with M.anifest. Their relationship was borne out of mutual respect for each other’s talent. Twelve months later, they have two songs together and the needle of the bond had moved from mutual admiration to M.anifest is “my fucking brother” level, to quote Burna Boy on the night.
Dressed in a red and white stripe Adidas outfit, the Nigerian afro-fusonist would drop back to back hits like the smooth tune “Gbona”, the hustler’s anthem “Dangote”, his verse on Dave’s ” Location” before zooming in on the highly flammable “Killin’ Dem”. “I only roll with brothers who roll with me”, the Grammy nominated artiste would purr to the charged and elated audience, affirming the spirit of brotherliness between him and M.Dot. For close to 35 minutes, a shirtless Burna Boy would dance, sing, drop a freestyle and engage with the audience. He would finish the night with “On The Low” and “Anybody”. Clearly, the spirit of Fela Kuti runs through the veins of Burna Boy.
The host of the evening, M.anifest would make a return to conclude his set with the Reynolds The Gentleman assisted “Me Ne Woa”, “Blues”, “I Dey For You”, which had S3kyer3wa come on to win hearts with her short but excellently delivered harmonies. M.anifest would sacrifice his second verse on “Ohemaa” for Moelogo who was performing in Ghana for the time to serenade with his sugary hook and verse on the song. Talk about letting a not to familiar artiste introduce himself to your fan base. When M.anifest began his performance of the crowd pleasing anthem “Cucuracha”, I for one thought Worlasi won’t show. I was wrong. He came, and together ended the night on a high.
“MANIFESTIVITIES” suffered from the “GMT” (Ghana Man Time) bug. Advertised to begin at 5 PM (which I knew would not happen), the show delayed for more than 4 hours. When I arrived at the grounds around 5:20 PM, fans were trooping in. The stage was yet to be built and artistes I spoke with were unsure about time for soundcheck. An hour later, a truck came to offload lightening equipments. The stage and rehearsals were conducted albeit short and rushed.
Another recognizable flaw was the pacing of performances. Most of it seemed rushed. Yung Pabi had to literally beg the DJ to perform his last song. Kelvyn Boy hopped on and out like a man with somewhere to be. Cina Soul did not return to the stage for an encore despite fans’ request. Also, if one was to compare the number of people at this year’s event with last year’s, one would see a dip. This, I may pin to lack of intense promotion. Perhaps, M.anifest and his team thought the positive commentary from last year would drive patronage. That, unfortunately was not the case this year. The silver lining was the fact that, fans really had a good time on the night.
Words can not describe the good that Kojo Manuel, Eff The DJ, DJ Neizer and DJ K3V did on the night. They literally helped save the concert from dragging. Where a delay was anticipated, Manuel and the DJs had the antidote to keep the event going. Except for when the supporting bands were setting up, delays were almost unnoticed.
MANIFESTIVITIES has obviously become an anticipated December event in the country. M.anifest and his team have created an event that brings together all shades of people – cool kids, young adults, lovers of good music. By inviting top rated African artiste, Manifestivities afford fans the chance to witness performances by some of their favourite artistes. On the night, M.anifest held his status as the godMC with Burna Boy proving again why he is the Giant on the African soundscape.
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