It was all Zouk and Kizomba dance moves, and love in the air as French crooner Slai (Patrice Sylvester) returned to Kigali Friday night, for a concert dubbed Zouk Love Party at the Cadillac Nightclub.
Like was the case when he headlined the Kigali Jazz Junction’s February edition (it was the first time he was performing in Rwanda), the 36-year-old brought with him his smooth Zouk ballads that have since endeared him to a growing Francophone fan base.
The Slai concert was the continuation of a new trend (live concerts) that Cadillac Nightclub introduced a fortnight ago, with the staging of its first live show dubbed Gakondo Night, that featured celebrated Gakondo musician Cyusa N’Inkera with his Inkera Traditional Dance Troupe.
While the Gakondo show proved that there is a thirst for decent venues from which to dance to traditional Rwandan sounds, Friday’s show was yet further proof that there is a niche for Francophone musicians/sounds on the Kigali concert scene that is yet to be fully tapped into.
Although it was only Slai’s name on the concert poster, show-goers were in for a little bit more, with the Makumbi Sound setting the stage for what would turn out to be a night of musical variety.
The band took the house through their familiar Afro Jazz sounds as revelers slowly trickled in, taking revelers through their intricate guitar and saxophone work.
Theirs was a purely instrumental performance devoid of vocals until the night’s MC eventually invited the next surprise act on stage before Slai.
The Neptunez Band, which later on backed up Slai on stage, started off with their own renditions to get the crowd ready for the main act.
Slai had jetted into the country in the wee hours of Friday morning, so it was hard to imagine how much time and preparation he had had with the band. However, the flawless performance that was to follow was more than enough proof that the band and the musician are fairly intimate and knew each other quite well. If anything, it’s the same band that had backed Slai up at his maiden concert at the Kigali Jazz Junction in February.
As is typical of all Slai concerts, the crowd turn up was heavily tilted towards the ladies, right from the VIP tables for which revelers had parted with Rwf 250,000, down to the ordinary section.
By the time Slai came on stage, revelers had savored whatever else was on offer on the night; two local live bands, DJ mixes from DJs Kiss and Toxxyk, while those with Rwf 20,000 to spare also partook of the night’s in-house buffet.
He took his audience through a catalog that dates back to songs off his first album, Fresh, that was released in 1998, to his other Zouk ballads off subsequent albums like Escale, Caraibes, and the self-titled Slai.
As the Zouk vibes took revelers over, the pairing up and waltzing soon took center stage, as couples and groups of friends danced gently away.
It was a welcome change from the usual nightclub routine of energetic dancing and twerking to party music by girls in a skimpy dress and tight pants … well, that was reserved for after Slai’s performance.