Artists are the epi-centre of live shows. No matter how well-organised or beautifully-decorated an event can be, dull presentation of a live performance by artists can spoil an otherwise good show, thereby receiving a lukewarm reception from fans in the process.
However, some artists, particularly musicians, take their fans for granted by giving them a raw deal during live shows. Some musicians with a reputation and experience keep doing the same thing over and over again during live shows, making their sets monotonous.
The essence of a live show is to provide people with a maximum and satisfying entertainment experience. And stage creativity employed by artists is one of the critical factors that contribute to their reputation and brand building. For example, patrons expect artists to display good live stage work coupled with new things to quench their entertainment thirst while handsomely compensating them for their time and money.
However, it is worrisome to observe that some artists and bands fail to live up to their billing during live performances due to lack of creativity on stage. The only thing which attracts people to their shows is the name they have built over time, nothing new. Not even a wow moment that gives people appetite or real satisfaction of entertainment.
For example, an entertainment reporter or fan can attend three shows of particular artists or bands, only to come up with one story or the same impression because there is nothing new that these artists offer on stage. They have embarrassingly stuck to the same stage approach, including the selection of playlist, such a boring trend which has been happening for years on end in the showbiz industry.
Likewise, live performances of some stand-up comedians and poets leave a lot to be desired. For example, some comedians, particularly those who capitalise on the accents of our mother-tongues in their skits, miss the timing big time. In their misguided creativity, they think speaking in heavy or undiluted accent of a particular language, without employing substance is comedy. Indeed, they simply expose their mother-tongues as mere laughing stalks for failing to convey aspects of real comedy.
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. While some artists are sleeping on the game, others, especially urban artists, are killing it big time, capitalising on every creative aspect to impress fans and tap into new audiences. In fact, they are pushing their game to great heights, pulling out a lot of goodies and unexpected creative stage actions that surprise and amuse their fans.
A vivid example is dancehall/Afro-pop musician Eli Njuchi’s album launch which happened last week at Mangochi Stadium. He took his fans by surprise when he performed on a crane. This excited his fans and left then in suspense as to what would happen in his follow-up shows.
His arrival on a crane excited fans and people did not expect him to freely perform while suspended in air by the machine. But he did and to the satisfaction of fans.
One of Eli Njuchi’s fans, Alick Square from Lilongwe said he was taken unawares by his favourite artist’s stage creativity.
“I didn’t attend the Mangochi show, but I was impressed to see what Eli Njuchi did there. Honestly, I didn’t expect to see pictures of him performing from a crane in the air. That was fabulous. We need this type of creativity to enjoy performances by our artists,” he said.
Music commentator Samuel Chiwaka said creativity gives artists an added advantage to stay relevant to their fans.
He said: “Entertainers must be willing to innovate and give their fans the best experience. They must keep people debating about their unmatched skills and creativity all the time. This is the only way they can maintain or increase their fan base, including winning business with the corporate world.”
Of late, rapper Gwamba aka Chichewa Landlord has also adopted a compelling stage approach in which he jumps on stage with a World Boxing Association (WBA) belt. This has drawn the attention of his fans and kept people wondering whether his is a super champion of Oleksand Usyk (WBA super champion 2022) calibre.
Artistically, the belt depicts his kingship of Chichewa rap as he is fondly called Chichewa rap landlord.
During Onesimus’ homecoming concert on September 26 2021 at Lilongwe Golf Club, many urban artists, including Onesimus, displayed impressive creative stage work. Clad in kingship attire, Onesimus performed in a cage which was brought on stage.
During the same show, one of the supporting artists, Charisma rode in a shopping trolley on stage which had a smoking gun mounted on it, producing smoke like a vehicle in motion. This creativity brought excitement among the fans as the Kubanda hitmaker moved around the stage on the trolley singing.
While some artists start their performances by appearing from the backstage or in the middle of the crowd, others are simply seen as confused and desperate.
“Creativity is no substitute during live shows. Artists need to do all they can to bring live performances to rife for fans to be entertained or appreciate their art,” said event manager Tonderai Banda, managing director of Entertainers Promotions, one of the country’s leading entertainment stables.