Billy Ocean Was Worth the Billing

It was 9pm. Kampala Serena hotel’s Vitoria hall was already full when Isaac Rucci, who was the MC assisted by comedian Alex Muhangi, asked guests to check under their seats.

If you found an orange sticker, you were a lucky winner of a modem, courtesy of Africell telecommunications company, who were part of the sponsors.

The company further gave WiFi routers to some of the VIP guests. British Airways, the other sponsors who had flown in Billy Ocean’s 14-man team, had a raffle draw where one lucky guest walked away with a return-ticket to London.

It was a busy evening as Kampala warmed to Billy Ocean’s performance last Thursday. As the band set up, the MCs tried auctioning an autographed painting of Billy Ocean but with the starting-price set at Shs 5m, no one was bothered.

All everyone wanted to see was the man of the night – Billy Ocean. Silk events had set up a stage befitting the event – with superb sound and lights. At 9:30pm, the lights went dim. And as sweet voices came through from the backup vocalists, Billy Ocean stepped forward. Clad in a white suit, complete with a light-blue shirt, blue tie and black shoes, the 65-year-old had the crowd screaming even before saying a thing.

Like to command the crowd to stand up, he rolled off his performance with the single, Standup. And boy oh boy, this guy has a voice it’s just impeccable. And his instrumentalists know how not to compete with it.

For a man with such a rich list of songs, he chose his list wisely, following up Standup with songs that people are familiar with such as Mystery Lady, Are You Ready, and Colour Of Love. Well, these songs got some people off their feet but didn’t attract that expected excitement.

This forced the singer to pause a bit, talking about his father and thanking the crowd for the support. But when he belted out Love Zone and Suddenly, it was like the crowd was feeding from his palms. Get Out Of My Dreams and Lover-Boy had the audience almost worship him. The Trinidad and Tobago born and British-raised singer couldn’t leave, of course, without doing When The Going Gets Tough, which got everyone singing along.

He capped his performance with Caribbean Queen before walking away with his band, leaving the audience chanting: “We want more.”

After a few minutes, he returned to do an encore of Caribbean Queen. The house couldn’t get more because his time was up. I don’t recall talking to anyone after the show who didn’t profess having a great time.

The organizers, Masters Music, delivered as they had promised: “The show would be iconic of the next Black Tie events”. After Billy Ocean’s awe-inspiring 102-minute performance, the bar has been set too high for the next Black Tie event.

Masters Music, a three-month-old company owned by former Limit X’s Rucci, comedian Muhangi and producer Michael Mugisha, promises to organise Black Tie every year.

And gauging by the fact that no one went complaining to have paid Shs 300,000 for an ordinary ticket, Shs 600,000 for VIP or Shs 6m for a table of ten, the company has started off on good ground. Looking forward to the next Black Tie!

Source : The Observer

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