Fans flock to Ugandan star Bebe Cool's anniversary concert

Bebe Cool’s recent concert staged at the Kampala Serena Hotel on 5 August proved that Ugandan music fans can be forgiving if the artist understands the crowd and is willing to work for the attention.

Bebe Cool on stage during the concert. Photo: www.chimreports.com
Bebe Cool on stage during the concert. Photo: www.chimreports.com

Since 2015 there has been a widespread disgust among fans since Bebe Cool and 11 other artists came together to record a song, ‘Tubonga Nawe’, endorsing Yoweri Museveni as their presidential choice for the 2016 elections. Angry fans promised to boycott concerts by the 12, a risk that many of the artists involved did not want. For example, Chameleone cancelled his annual concert, likewise Bebe Cool cancelled his annual Easter concert. Radio and Weasel dared to see if the public would make good on their threat, but their Mwana Wabandi concert earlier in the year attracted only a handful fans.

Against this backdrop, Bebe Cool therefore did not leave anything to chance when it came to staging his 'Life of Bebe Cool' career restrospective concert to celebrate 18 years in the industry. Sources close to the artist note that more than before, he was hands-on in the event's organisation, even when it came to ticket sales. He also kept his fans looking forward to it by releasing new singles in the months leading to the concert.

His efforts of course paid off, as the hotel's Victoria Hall was full to the brim. Even fellow artists Radio and Weasel, Winnie Nwagi, Irene Ntale, Maurice Kirya and Katsha De'Bank were in attendance.

With half the battle won (by getting fans to attend), it was up to Bebe Cool to justify that the UGX 100000 (about $30) pricetag for regular tickets and UGX 5 million (about $1482) for VIP tickets were worth it.

To set the tone for the evening ahead, the audience was given a glimpse into the life of Bebe Cool with a documentary screened before he stepped on stage for the first time. Neatly put together, the documentary focused on Bebe Cool as an artist and a controversial public figure, delving into his politics and relationship with his fans.

Moments later, Bebe Cool’s son Allan Hendrick Ssali got the party started with his opening performance, during which he performed his popular single ‘Omukwano Gwo’.

 

Bebe Cool's charisma on stage may be undeniable, but when it comes to the production aspects of the 'Life of Bebe Cool' concert, the battle was lost. Apparently working with a new stage crew, the production was a let-down for the artist and those attending - from microphone glitches to feedback and echoes. 

The choreography by the dancers also left a lot to be desired. Time and again, the dancers would obstruct each other.

While many might regard the show as being quite ordinary, there were highlights - for example, when Bebe Cool’s 11-year old daughter played renditions of Adele’s 'Hello', Lukas Graham’s '7 Years' and Sinach’s 'I Know Who I Am'. Her performance on the piano was proof that musical talent runs in the family.

Another important moment of the show came when a recorded message was screened from President Museveni, who apologized for missing the show since he had to be away on an official visit.

Despite the organisational hiccups, the evening underlined just why Bebe Cool is still one of Uganda’s biggest performing artists. After four hours of music, the star wrapped up the night by premiering the video for his latest single, ‘Dede’.

 

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