You know it’s going to be an epic concert when the first face you see when you arrive at Carnivore is Mercy Myra’s. It’s something about the Alchemist and omens; those telltale signs that “predict” how a situation will turn out. The concert I am about to dissect with excruciating detail is Barclays Live Dimensions concert, an artsy matrimony between Peter Nduati’s Pinecreek Records and Barclays Bank.
Arrive at Carnivore and a car stops in-front of us, and the ever resplendent Mercy Myra alights. I could have sworn her counterpart was Susan of Gogosimo band, the sultry voiced diva known for coastal tinged melodies.
Peter Nduati is busy talking in very thick Gikuyu to someone over the phone. He later explains within earshot to a friend of his, that he has been on the phone with his mother for an hour. Pleasantries exchanged, laughter ensues. All the while, I stand near the ticketing desk awaiting instructions on how to proceed.
Tickets in tow, we are ushered to Carnivore’s Simba Saloon. There is something about the ambiance that screams understated elegance with smithereens of decadence here and there. Very afro-centric, the place is conducive for the upwardly mobile crowd that loves great banter over drinks and a backdrop of soothing melodies.
The emcee takes to the stage, whilst we are being handed our meal vouchers. Tall, lanky and clad in a fitting suit, the very eloquent gentleman starts by welcoming his “guests” to the show. Then he begins to narrate how he has had a “thing” for Atemi since he was seven and she was ten. Talk of “long distance” relationships!
He introduces Webi, who doubles up as Atemi’s vocal side-kick. Now Webi has a very distinct voice, you cannot mistake his tone. Polished, pitch-perfect, he sings two songs and manages to get the audience’s attention. Evidently, we were in for a treat.
Soon enough, Webi is done and Atemi is introduced.
Now if you have never been to an Atemi concert, you have no idea what vocal dynamics are. This woman’s voice has a life of its own. Resounding and replenishing, it breathes life to mortals. Okay I exaggerated.
Atemi knows her stuff; she sings with the confidence of ten thousand divas. She belts like the ether comes alive at the sound of her voice, and she coos like birds singing lullabies to angels. She could sing you the Chinese anthem and you’d fall in love. Her dulcet tones have this smoky tinge that leaves goose bumps on your skin. She managed to keep us mouth agape for almost an hour before giving up the stage to her counterpart Nyota Ndogo. That is no mean fete! Not when Nairobians have the concentration span of wailing toddlers, armed with distracting smartphones!
Now Nyota’s voice is very Taarab-esque. You’d have to have a “working knowledge” of the music and culture of the East African coast to understand why she effortlessly “bends” notes the way she does, plus grasp her anecdotes. She took us on a musical odyssey, one song after another and although the energy had gone down a notch or two, her witty comments were all the rage with the audience. Her music is more mellow, and punctuated with lilting Swahili.
Given, we were not familiar with many of her songs, but she somehow managed to make the audience perform vicariously through her. Her voice is like dewdrops in grass at dawn; fresh, sweet, inviting. My favorite antic of the day was her taunting a lady in the audience, for “adamantly” refusing to let Nyota dance with her man without her tagging along. They call the taunting “kusuta” in Mombasa, but of-course this was all done in jest.
My other highlights of the day were Atemi doing a delectable duet with Mercy Myra, where they changed the words of Harry Kimani’s ‘Waithera” and serenaded a couple of audience members including Resolution Health’s Peter Nduati. Then there was the Rib-cracking Katitu medley that Chris Adwar led, backed by Atemi and band (Benta and Ken Wa Maria’s Fundamendos).
Last but definitely not least, was Nyota Ndogo and Mercy Myra singing Happy Birthday to Eric Wainaina. This is one birthday that Eric Wainaina will remember for decades to come.
Live Dimensions happens every last Wednesday of the month and has featured Mercy Myra, Sarabi and Anto Neo-soul. It seeks to create a platform where artists affiliated to Pinecreek Records, get to showcase their music and interact with fans.
Mark your calendars people; this is one event that you definitely want to be attending on the regular. The music is amazing, the ambience refreshing and the crown exhilarating. Advance tickets go for KES 300, KES 500 at the door. Now if that isn’t a great deal, I don’t know what is!
Rumour has it that the next one might feature Eric Wainaina and Chris Adwar. If it does, just ensure you ask Eric to perform his latest release ‘Stay”, after Chris does replicates the Katitu medley on stage. I forgot to say that I won a branded t-shirt courtesy of Barclays. Omens.
Kibali describes himself this way “In the morning, I’m a bathroom popstar, during the day I’m churning out social media content, in the night, I’m chasing ghosts…” He is also a budding musician. Follow Kibali on his twitter handle.