Patience Namadingo’s Ya Symon album is a tribute to a departed father who pushed his talents to the limit and made him a better man.
And on Friday and Saturday, were the father able to watch the well choreographed album launch in Blantyre and Lilongwe, he would have been awed.
Namadingo and his band stepped on stage in style. All dressed as pilots, he called his backers ‘captains’ of the music show that was about to fly and two hours later, a packed Bingu International Convention Centre Auditorium bowed to his stardom. Namadingo is flying.
The new album may find its critics, if any, but the show was flawless. The music arrangement, stage management, lightning, time management, the ticketing, the venue, the ambience and above all, the performances from the main man and those who backed him, Namadingo delivered, arguably, one of the best album launches in years, period.
Well, before Namadingo took the stage, the audience was already bewitched by the majesty of the Zambian song bird WeziMhone, who belongs to the same record label as Namadingo. Clad in traditional chitenje dress, she dazzled while playing her music. But when she played a soft rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song, she sent the audience into ecstasy.
When she left, there was a five-minute break before Namadingo’s voice echoed across the arena—calling his band members—all elegantly dressed like aircraft captains.
Namadingo played songs from his new and previous albums with old hits such as Mtendereand Ngwi Ngwi from the new album produced in Zimbabwe—turning into the toast of the night. For Ngwi Ngwi, he had to perform it twice. But there was the old Msati Mseke, Dziko Lili Pa Moto, Ndilindi Yesu and others that equally reinforced his stardom.
He had ample surprises, including cameo performances by former Mizu Band front man Jay Jay; who has just turned to gospel music. Jay Jay, who performed a reggae version of Namadingo’s Mtendere, will soon be recording his debut gospel album and Namadingo invited the audience to financially contribute to the project—asking them to donate on the spot cash which the musician gladly collected.
There was another surprise. Namadingo invited on stage, Joe Kellz, whose own version of Namadingo’s Tandigwireni has gone viral on social media and they jointly played the music. Here, Namadingo, the captain, the groomer and nurturer of budding talents, was enjoying himself.
He performed for close to two hours leaving the stage just after midnight to a rapturous applause.
In between the songs, he awarded his support base including his mother, sister, manager, producers, music critics and others with medals. When he announced that the best awardee of the night was not at the venue, but was perhaps watching from heaven, he was referring to his deceased father. Then he broke down in tears.
The album Ya Symon is dedicated to his father Symon Namadingo who died in 2014.
In an interview after the show, Namadingo confirmed the obvious that he had fun and explained the ideas behind the album.
“The show was really good, I had fun performing tonight; this is what we really call support. Lilongwe is really my home and it showed again tonight. There are two sides to Ya Symon. The theme of the album is the vintage radio cassette album. One side is all gospel and has 11 tracks and the other side is more conscience, human development view point,” said Namadingo.
Cosmas Msamba, who travelled all the way from Dowa District, said the show lived up to the hype and said watching Namadingo play Dziko Lili Pa Moto from the previous album made his evening.
Another fan from Lilongwe’s Area 18 Township, Emma Soko, concurred with Msamba saying the show was enjoyable from start to finish.