The Mascom Live Sessions gig at Botswana Craft this past Friday was off the hook.
Despite having been in the music industry for more than three decades, Sipho Hotstix Mabuse can still give many young artists a run for their money.
He had the audience eating from the palm of his hand with his rich voice, fluidity on the saxophone and youthful impromptu dance moves. The curtain raiser for the evening was ATI, who gave the crowd their money’s worth. He performed old hits such as O tsididi and Poelo morago, in between taking the audience on his journey in the music industry.
But it was the hit song Khiring Khorong that made the crowd go crazy; the track sure is a banger. ATI is still edgy, but there is evident growth in his personality and craft. Like fine wine, he gets better with time and at this point, his immense talent is undisputable.
Mabuse took to the stage and started his set on a relaxed note, breaking into a popular hymn. It was a short but gratifying moment that left many waving and swaying along. But just as quickly, he shook us out of that lull and went on to perform the classic Shikisa, which saw everyone tapping their feet along. Mabuse urged the crowd on and gyrated along. He is quite energetic for a 66-year-old; he has the ‘vrr vaa’. After a few performances, he took the audience down memory lane, sharing how he had first come to Botswana in 1968. He also made a shout out to Isaac Makwala who did the nation proud with his gold win at the Diamond League.
Mabuse’s mood took on a sombre tone when he paid homage to renowned jazz artist Bheki Mseleku, who had returned from exile in America during apartheid, only to stay for a short while in South Africa before returning to America, where he died. He performed a deep song called Angola that strung at emotional chords and had a profound sound.
Mabuse then picked up the tempo when he performed the song that I had been waiting for the whole evening, Burn out. The song is older than myself, having been released in the early 1980s, but it still has magic and more than three decades later, it gets everyone on the dance floor. Revellers could not contain themselves as they burst into excited cheers when the song played.
Young and old got down together and shook this way and that, stomping, shuffling, and doing get downs and different variations of pantsula dance. Even yours truly, three left feet and all, started swaying, head nodding, finger snapping and feet tapping.
His act came to an end when he introduced his band, comprising a percussionist, drummer, guitarist and keyboard player, as well as a backing vocalist with a stunning voice, who was quite an attraction with her long legs, with her unconventional beauty made more pronounced by her unique fade cut and bright unique African print top and sky high heels she wore.
But the biggest applause went to bass guitar player, David Mabaso, who was with the now defunct Big Dudes (of Brenda and the Big Dudes fame). He went down memory lane as he strummed away Weekend Special, much to the delight of the crowd who sang along to the legendary jam.DJ Robbie Rob closed the great night on the decks, playing classic RnB, hip-hop, kwaito and house tunes.