Kigali’s flagship New Year’s Day music event, the East African Party, marked its 11th edition on Tuesday night, with a mammoth crowd at the Amahoro Stadium parking.
Unlike previous editions, where regional or international acts have been flown in to headline the show, this year organisers looked home, in Rwanda, and they did not go wrong in their choice of R&B maestro Meddy.
Other artistes on the line-up included Social Mula, Bruce Melody, Yvan Buravan, and Riderman, who boasts one of the highest number of appearances at the more than decade-old East African Party. MC was Anita Pendo, while on the DJ decks was the dynamic DJ Marnaud, who like Meddy, was a crowd favourite.
It was clear that most fans came out in droves, specifically for Meddy, fresh from Canada where he had held a successful pre-Christmas concert.
For the singer, it was the culmination of an eventful year that was characterised by the dominance of massive hits like Adi Top, Slowly and Lose control on local airwaves and night clubs. The singer also staged a successful world tour that kicked off with two concerts in the UK in September, before staging another concert in Nairobi in October.
On December 21, he performed in Montreal, Canada as part of the tour. He was supposed to follow this with two concerts in Bujumbura, the capital of neighbouring Burundi on December 29 and 30, but cancelled the two shows at the last minute due to security concerns.
Many stage moments were captured on camera by revellers.
In a way, it was a homecoming for Meddy, and when he eventually walked onto the stage surrounded by a sea of dancers, the wild cheers and excitement from fans brought back memories of Meddy’s memorable homecoming performance at the Mutzig Beer Fest in 2017.
Thanks to superior stage, sound and lighting, this was one of the best produced local music shows in the year. Perhaps the only major dent was the absence of a regional musical act on stage, for an event that is aptly branded ‘East African Party’.
Last year, Tanzania’s Ali Kiba, and Uganda’s Sheebah Karungi were the regional headliners, while in 2016, it was the Jamaican dancehall star Konshens.
Looked at another way, however, the lack of foreign acts on the line-up could be viewed as a vote of confidence in home-grown talent, especially with regards to live performances on a big stage.
Uncle Austin also performed at the show.
In this regard, Meddy, Buravan, and Bruce Melody especially come to mind, going by their crowd-moving performances.
Meddy hit the stage to wild cheers at 11pm, clad in blue track suit with white head band. Amidst a sea of dancers, he launched into his repertoire. His more than one hour long performance was dominated by sing-along sessions by fans, and requests to sing particular songs.
Soon, however, the song requests turned into demands by fans that the singer unveil his girlfriend known as Mehfira Mimi, who was backstage. The crowd’s excitement hit crescendo when mean looking bouncers ushered Mimi to the stage, as Meddy belted out his ballad, Ntawamusimbura. The scene was reminiscent of his earlier performance in Montreal, Canada, where Meddy had yielded to a similar request from fans.