NKOLE NKOLE, Lusaka
IF YOU are a dedicated music fan, it does not matter how long it takes for you to watch your favourite artiste live on stage. However long it takes, when that rare moment arrives, you will turn up.
This was the picture last weekend when the legendary 90s R&B group Boyz II Men headlined the Stanbic Music Festival at the Lusaka Polo Club.
Fans came en masse particularly on the final day of the show that was for ‘the tired but not retired.’
Boyz II Men arrived geared to take their Zambian fans on a sentimental journey back into time.
It was a surreal experience especially for those of the analog era who came to love Boyz II Men’s soulful, feel-good music that was most prominent in the 90s.
Their Zambian fans warmed up in anticipation of the show by exhuming old cassette tapes, which they would rewind back in the day using ballpoint pens.
They salvaged old CDs they had stashed away and occasionally played in the comfort of their homes; this time hoping and praying to get them autographed.
In appearance, Boyz II Men had piled on some pounds and greyed — they are after all no longer boys — but on stage, their in sync dance moves were as lively as they were in the 90s.
There were also many selfie moments. Like when the show’s anchors, Chishala Chitoshi Jr and Kamiza Chikula, amid chants of “Boyz II Men!” asked the waiting fans to remove their phones and take selfies with their backs facing the stage.
But the trio did not come out just yet and the crowd was delirious while video clips of the group’s most famous songs flashed on the festival’s display screens.
Dressed in all white, Wanya, Nathan and Shawn gave their sea of fans a show they would not soon forget. So often during their set, there was no need for them to sing into their microphones as their fans crooned line after line of their greatest hits.
The group ushered their fans right into a time machine when they appeared on stage and they were still in a trance from the experience hours after it was all over.
The countless seats in the standard section became props when patrons decided to stand on them for a better view of Boyz II Men.
For devotees like Dot Com Zambia’s Mawano Kambeu, it was the eleventh time to watch them live.
While the sound may not have done them justice on the night, their wholehearted performance and riveting stage presence could not be faulted.
The sight of the fans was overwhelming for Boyz II Men who perhaps had not anticipated such a warm display of love.
For part of the set, Shawn Stockman strummed the lead guitar while Nathan Morris took the bass guitar in hand.
The ladies in the front row were recipients of red roses during Boyz II Men’s delivery of the love song, I’ll Make Love to You and when the time came for their performance of One Sweet Day which originally features Mariah Carey, there was a cell-phone light display that from a distance looked like stars twinkling in the dark.
If ever Boyz II Men thought they had faded into musical oblivion over the years, one visit to Zambia was enough to make anyone rethink that.
They told their Zambian fans they would see them again soon for it was certainly not the ‘end of the road’.