Osibisa made incredible music and left the Coimbatoreans asking for more, on the concluding day of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest
For a lot of us in the audience, it was nearly 30 years since we had heard Osibisa. One could not wait for the start of the concert and many had reached the venue by six for a show that was to begin at 7.15 p.m. It was the final day of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest.
There was something special in the air and the atmosphere was electric. There were people across generations eager to see and hear this band that they had heard and surely danced to, in the 1970s.
Osibisa conjures up images of an African landscape where rhythm and melody reflect energy and spirit. And, the music makers did not disappoint.
Loud cheers, whistles, hoots and claps welcomed Osibisa on stage, and, they began the evening with The Dawn, the first song from their first album ‘Osibisa'. One could almost see dawn breaking in the background. The next song was Fire with a subtle message for the younger generation.
The audience warmed up as the band insisted they participate in the performance. They did, clapping in time and joining in the chorus.
The concert featured some of Osibisa's new numbers, and memorable old ones like ‘music for gong gong' – an instrumentalist's delight and ‘kile le kile le' – a song that was used as a background score in numerous school and college annual days for a tribal dance. The auditorium erupted as the group broke out into ‘dance the body music.' Even the most staid and conservative among the audience threw restraint to the winds and clapped, waved, screamed and sang lustily with the band.
‘Ojaye oja' evoked the same frenzy. From then it was sheer magic with ‘Welcome home', ‘Celebration', ‘Sunshine day', ‘Osee Ye'– meaning one life and make the most of it, and ‘the warrior' – which had the audience chanting ‘O-SI-BI-SA.'
And, Gandhiji would have loved Osibisa's rendition of his favourite bhajan, ‘Raghupati Raghava Raja Ram.'
The audience kept the rhythm going and sang along with the band. Not for a moment did the enthusiasm or intensity flag.
Kids scrambled up on stage to dance, and some older ones had to be restrained from doing the same! The aisles and corridors filled up with dancing feet. Lead guitarist Asafo-Agyei Herman made some more magic with his music and the bass guitarist Tagoe Emmanuel Nii Okine followed him. Wild applause greeted the percussion solo by Boateng Alexander and the drum solo by Richardson Wendell.
This included playing the drums while writhing on the floor!
Founder member Teddy Osei came onstage on a wheelchair and performed for over two hours. But, that's what they are all about.
Forty years in the business, and their music still remains fresh, infectious and sensational.
Everyone who heard them will want them back for next year's festival.