Monday, June 28, 2010

June 10 :: Arrival, Opening Concert

Upon landing in Jozi, we said goodbye to the English dudes we met on the plane, cleared customs, and found Hempza in the arrivals hall.

Already packed with fans, the atmosphere was amazing. We started to get the idea of "Philip" aka "Feel It" (as in - "can you feel it?" - the tag phrase of the cup atmosphere). Vuvuzelas, chants, songs, flags, noisemakers, and SMILES! We were all here to have a good time.

Accompanying Hempza was Langi (his girlfriend) and Winn (his cousin) - folks who would soon become friends as well.

Once we picked up our game tickets (!!), changed some monies, and picked up our car, Hempza, Langi, Alli and I headed out to the Sandton area to pick up tickets to the opening concert from our dear friend Deborah. After quite an adventure in directions (and setting the tone for us getting lost almost every day), we found Deborah at an amazingly plush little resort/hotel/spa. Aside from the purple Cadbury people, it was quite a nice way to arrive. After some laughs and stories with Deborah (please don't mention "the President's balls" if you want to see us with straight faces), we headed on our way.

We soon arrived in Roodeport, and the lovely home of Lettie & Lucky, which was to be our home base for our trip.

View Larger Map

After getting settled, having a shower, and eating some food, we headed over to the newly renovated Orlando Stadium (home of the Orlando Pirates) in the Orlando section of Soweto for the opening concert.

As we walked up, I could hear Kwani Experience playing! These guys are a great group who I have been talking to for a couple years, and hoping to bring stateside at some point. I had hoped to see them play at this concert, but many local South African groups got stuck with early timeslots, and not much international love.

The list of artists who played from 4-8 pm was not really put out many places, so for all of them, here they are:
* three-time SAMA winner Loyiso Bala
* three-time SAMA nominee Tumi Molekane
* six-time SAMA nominees 340ml
* well-known up-and-coming artists Kwani Experience
* Steadyrock!
* and more - I'll update this post shortly

Once 8 pm hit, the event went global - the sound improved, lights were coordinated, and the crowd filled in. Bra Hugh Masekela kicked off the official section of the concert - a little different than seeing him from the front row here in Boston, but equally great.

Again, lots of artists - I'll mention only the South African acts (as I'm putting on some serious South African nationalist tendencies here. . . ):
*BLK JKS (killed it with Mzabalazo)
*Hugh Masekela
*Vusi Mahlasela
*Soweto Gospel Choir
*Big Nuz & DJ Tira
*Mzansi Youth Choir

Oh, and some Malian artists as well on the bill! Yeah Mali! A ka di!
*Vieux Farka Toure
*Amadou & Mariam
*Tinariwen (although they were flying Algerian flags on stage)

And of course K'Naan & Angelique Kidjo to round out the African contingent.

My personal highlight? Of course it was the Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu coming on stage in full Bafana Bafana ("the boys the boys" - the nickname for the South African soccer team) gear, and literally dancing and giggling and reminding us all of our inner child, our humanity, the joy of life and the game, and of course the immense change that has happened in South Africa and his role in it. AMAZING. This man. . . wow. Thank the gods and the ancestors and the spirits for his life.

Also of note (and on a totally different tip. . . ) - Alicia Keys covering Brenda Fassie's "Too Late for Mama" with the BLK JKS (check the video):

If you missed the concert, you can grab bits and pieces on YouTube, or check the whole thing on Vevo

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