I’ve been told that the fireworks at the ARA (American Recreation Association?) at the Fourth of July are the best to be seen in Kampala. Well, I’ve been there and left very unimpressed. Now the fireworks at Blu*3’s album launch last Saturday in Lugogo were spectacular. Someone invested a lot of money into that dazzling display. My friend, Tara, and I were mesmerized by the lights and sparks. Blue fireworks are my favorite, and there were plenty of those.
On the subject of investing a lot of money, Blu*3’s stage: Wow! When they first came out, sure, they came up through a trapdoor in the floor, but they were performing in front of a black backdrop and on plastic blue chairs. I was almost disappointed, but then they came back from their first costume change with a vengeance. It was very Charlie’s Angels-esque, their reemergence to perform the title track to their new album, Burrn, three sexy silhouettes on top of a set of stairs accentuated by a backdrop of flames.
It has been reported that the quality of sound was poor during their show. Well, there were some problems. One of their mics appeared to no be working properly. However, I think it is a testament to the girls’ skills as performers that they just went on with the performance as if nothing was out of the ordinary. First, Lillian walked off stage to get a replacement mic. When that didn’t resolve the matter, they would pass on one of the good mics to whomever was singing lead at that time. Of course, they could’ve been catty and been like, “Your mic isn’t working? Sorry for you, bitch.”
Blu*3’s show surpassed all my expectations. I’ve seen them perform before and loved them. They have good stage presence, and their choreography is always amazing. You can tell that they put much effort and practice into their performances. I am so glad that they performed with a live band last Saturday. When I go to a live show, I expect to hear something different that what is on an album. An artist doesn’t want to alter songs so radically that they will not be recognizable to their fans; however, a live performance should have elements of spontaneity and improvisation. Performing with a live band allows for this. Plus, a live band just sounds better than a backing track. The girls’ costumes were fantastic. I spent the first part of the show admiring Cindy Sanyu’s tiny waist and nice hips…lovely. My friend, Tara, commented more than once that the girls’ had a great wardrobe. Now, I read it reported that their costume changes took too long. I’m going to chalk such a comment up to the writer’s inexperience with large shows that include wardrobe changes. I’ve been to many shows in my days and seen several of the great pop acts: Britney, Janet, ‘NSync. Costume changes take time. There was always something going on during Blu*3’s costume changes to keep the audience excited. Come on, Montel performed during one of them.
The girls looked and sounded great. Guess what, they can sing live. Despite the mic problems they were having, they put on a great show. I loved the alterations they made to the Strong Woman song to introduce themselves better. I was really impressed with Cindy’s performance. I think she actually sounds better singing live than recorded. Lillian has been blessed with an amazing, strong voice. Her singing appeared effortless and she belted out her notes with ease. Jackie has one of those all-around great voices which allows her to be versatile and sound amazing now matter what she is singing.
I agree with some who say they performed Burrn too early in the show. They should’ve saved it until the end since it is their title track and one of their hottest hits at the moment. I think that it was great that they didn’t have too many opening acts. I was quite surprised when it was announced that they were taking the stage…and then they did. They got it right. The purpose of opening acts is to get the audience warmed up and excited for the headlining artists, not wear them out and make them tired. I also went to an album launch at Theater La Bonita last Friday night. What a train wreck! I was ready to leave before the main act came on. Opening act overkill! Too many opening acts frustrate an audience, especially if the opening acts are truly awful and they make it seem like you are attending a high school talent show.
I love to watch live performances, especially when they are as full of energy and well-orchestrated as last Saturday’s Blu*3 concert. I’ve walked out of other shows in the past out of frustration. I believe that Blu*3 has set a new standard that will challenge other top names in Ugandan music. But that is how things improve. Someone pushes the bar a little higher.
If you are not in Uganda and are thinking, "Man, I really wish I could listen to Blu*3's music." Never fear. They have a website where you can purchase their music for download. I've not tried it out, but I'd be curious to know it it works. If it does, then that's great for them. The website also claims that they have concert dates scheduled in North America and Europe, so check 'em out if you can.
On a different music-related topic, two songs just passed the 100 play count on my iTunes:
• Not Ready to Make Nice by the Dixie Chicks 102
• (You Drive Me) Crazy (Jazzy Jim's Hip-Hop Mix) by Britney Spears 101
These are the first two songs to pass the 100 play-count mark. I guess that makes them my two favorite songs.