Poor crowd mars Tarrus Riley gig

HARARE - On Sunday night Jamaican star Tarrus Riley (pictured) delivered a concert awash with class, energy and variety but sadly Harare International Conference Centre (HICC) was just half-full.

As predicted in the run-up to the Jamaican star’s first ever concert on Zimbabwean soil, a combination of high ticket prices and the Castle Lager National Braai Day celebrations held on the same day at Old Hararians Sports Club, just a stone’s throw away from the HICC, must have conspired to keep away some fans.

With the entry ticket to the Castle Lager National Braai Day celebrations pegged at just $5, it was not surprising that some music fans opted for it instead of Riley’s where fans had to fork out $30 for a standard ticket, $50 for a VIP ticket and a whopping $100 for the VVIP one.

The situation was so bad around 6pm when the concert started. Zimbabwe’s current favourite, Jah Prayzah, who took to the stage first because he had another gig at the Castle Lager National Braai Day celebrations, performed in a near-empty venue.

Thereafter, fans began to trickle in until they reached about a couple of thousands in the venue with a capacity of 4 500.

But the half-full venue did not seem to bother the Jamaican star who gave Zimbabweans arguably one of the best shows ever to be held at the HICC. Backed by legendary saxophonist Dean Fraser and the Blak Soil Band, the 38-year old Riley kick-started his riveting set with the hit Love is Contagious. What a mind-blowing start it was!

Riley, who went on stage at 1:40am yesterday and performed until 4am, whipped the fans into a frenzy by performing some of his well-known hits like Just the Way You Are, Africa Awaits and Lion Paw.

The singer also spiced up his set with some well-known covers including the late Bob Marley’s 1979 hit Zimbabwe and Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse.

But the best was yet to come. When he performed the hits She’s Royal and Sorry Is a Sorry Word the applause was defeaning. The crowd sang along with gusto as the Jamaican star delivered the hits.

Though Riley was without doubt the star of the night, his compatriot Fraser did enough to win over hundreds of new fans with his fabled skills on the saxophone which earned the 60-year-old the Musgrave Medal from the Jamaican government in 1993 in recognition of his services to music.

Fraser, who has recorded two albums of covers of Bob Marley’s, impressed the crowd with an instrumental version of Redemption Song. He then set HICC alight when he helped surprise guest Winky D perform Disappear.

Other than Jah Prayzah, other local artistes who performed at the concert were Soul Jah Love, who was the last performer on the night, Gary Tight, Seh Calaz and Killer T.

Young Gary Tight delivered a very mature set. He was joined on stage by Alexio Kawara when he performed a cover of his father’s hit — Ndinoda Wangu.

Zimdancehall star Seh Calaz, who used a live band, and Killer T performed several of their well-known hits.

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