In my last blog post I mentioned that my stop by the Mandal cemetery was enroute to a music concert. I am going to say it here, that I have been to a number of music festivals and concerts in Norway, but there is something that I still don´t get in them, blame it on my cultural differences with the Norwegians.
Working in Radio and especially working for a musical show, gives one an opportunity to tour different music arenas and see different performances. As a result, I have been able to see for myself performances in Kenya and performances in Norway, two different concepts altogether.
In Kenya, at the mention of a given artist, the audience are already clapping, singing along and shouting the artist’s name. By the time the artist gets on the stage, the whole arena is in chaos. S/He sings the first few lines of her/his song and if not controlled, it’s not a surprise to see some of the people from the audience joining the artist on stage. Occasionally, the artists will point their microphones to the audience who in turn become the singers and they*(artists) now become the audience. Hahhahahhah!!! My friend, if you are an artist coming to perform in Norway or Europe at large, go easy on such tactics here, they seldom work! Be warned. Here is a good example of what I am talking about. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UABXMk2pQfc&feature=related
I find the Norwegian audience very boring. So if you try such tricks and you realise they are just staring at you, do not take it personal, it’s not an
indication that you are boring. Understand your position as an artist and perform. Do not turn the audience into singers, no no! Please don´t.
Back in Africa, when the performance is so electrifying, rarely will see you the audience standing, they will either be shaking their bodies or shaking their heads as they sing in unison. I remember, once I attended a reggae concert in Mombasa organised by Baraka FM some years back (at The Office, Likoni) and within the first few hours I literally had a headache. I realised I was not alone, but my boss and two of my colleagues could not take it too, we headed back home. The room was so crowded, no space to move in-between, the noisy reggae fans, very loud and rowdy as they enjoyed their music.
Beer and Coffee
In Norway, you might be having an electrifying performance but the audience is just seated watching, be prepared for such shocks. Attending the concert at Mandal, I occasionally felt like I needed to stand up and shake my body, the songs by a group- Blue Chordettes from Stavanger, were so good, but no, none of the Norwegians would dare leave their seats, so who was I to do so?. They are busy watching and sipping their favourite drinks-beer and COFFEE!
But do not worried, this is how you get the feedback from them, the more beers and coffee they drink, be assured they are enjoying your music. Once you are done, they will do something, if they feel you have been too good and they want to appreciate you for that, you will receive unending applause, and it will continue the longest it can, so the best thing to do, is just get back to the stage and add at least 2 songs. So if you are a performing artist, do not perform all your songs at once, you may be needed to get back to the stage, that is if you impress them. So be patient on immediate feedback, just give them your best and wait until you are done and if the clapping seems not to end, just pat yourself on the back and jump back on the stage, very important gesture.
Then, something that happens so much in Africa and these artists come here and behave the same. My simple advice, always inquire about your audience before jetting in that plane. In East Africa, the main artists will be quoted to be performing at, lets say at 10pm and do not be surprised when they show up at 1am. Lady Jaydee from Tanzania was performing in Oslo during this year´s Easter, all posters indicating that she will perform at 9pm, your guess is as good as mine, she shows up at midnight. The same happened last year. At Club Havana in Olso, Prof Jay from Tanzania and Chameleon from Uganda were representing East Africa in a European tour. Though scheduled to officially start off at 10pm, until midnight the event was yet to kick off and the artists were still to be located! I had to cancel my interview with them as I headed back to the hotel room, I had to consider my many errands the following day.
“The problem with these African artists, they never learn, you warn them in advance and in most cases by the time they are meant to be on stage, that is the time they will be doing their make up at their hotel rooms or they will be ironing their shirts,” said King Raba, East African music promoter in Germany.
In Europe, music is what brings together people of all age groups, children, the youth, parents and grandparents. It´s obvious that it is a is big industry and many musicians are giving it their best! Music is part of their life and many people know how to play an instrument or two which they bring along all the time they travel.
Whatever your choice of music, enjoy your week ahead!