NORTHERN REGION, GHANA (www.georgebritton.com) – Darkness falls in the Aliu Mahama Sports Stadium (Tamale Sport Stadium) and Stonebwoy’s gale-force voice rips through the arena before the band are visible. He has a howl for the ages, so steely and full that it’s hard to imagine how he’d fit in a venue even an inch smaller. This is the awards-winning artiste’s biggest Northern Region show, with an estimated 10, 000 attendees who the 20,000 capacity stadium. It was night full of joy, moments to remember and remarkable scenes that is definitely making the patrons, fans yearn for the next sequel of the musical concert.
After being skeptical about this year’s event, Multiple awards-winning Ghanaian reggae/ragga & dance-hall artiste, Livingstone Etse Satekla professionally known as Stonebwoy generated some enormous motivation to stage this year’s issue in a different geographical location, Tamale, Northern Region, Ghana. He has strong band, The Bhim Band, are a slick, self-assured machine and, flanked by guitarist Joshua Amoasi and the bassist, percussionist. Stonebwoy takes centre stage, lunging into power stances as if he’s braced against a hurricane.
With three albums coupled with some EPs since his debut, Stonebwoy have landed on a Grammy-winning formula designed to please a crowd: buzzy, sharp verses are teamed with thunderous, surging choruses that launch hundreds of devil horns held high. Sapashini (warrior), the opening song on the night, is a roaring, dystopian nightmare. Uncomfortable, a biting, punky rage against the patriarchy with an enormous, grinding riff, is prefaced with a wholesome pep talk about about his status quo in industry.
The event which lasted for an estimated 8 hours saw Stonebwoy emerging on stage at some minutes into 3AM, after he gave opportunity to rising stars who needed the platform to show their talent to the world. Songs from his catalogue, Tuff Seed, pivot towards his dance-hall genre in search of renewed fanbase. The overwhelming fans made the event soo colorful. They turned out in their numbers, all garned in the BHIM merchandises. So long as a loyal fanbase continues to sustain him, it’s not impossible to imagine more such bangers coming out of the Bangor band yet.
On stage, it’s clearly seen or understood; obvious that Stonebwoy really deserved his seat at the top and all titles won in the Reggae/Ragga & Dance-hall scene. He’s a magnetic performer. Songs such as Ololo (featuring), Go Higher, Louisa, Killy Killy (composed by Larruso), Tomorrow, My name, Bhim Nation send feet stomping through the arena. Elsewhere, the crowds sway as he croons the remix tune of Pull Up (featuring Patoranking), Most Original (featuring Sean Paul) backed by the Bhim Band, and the latest from his catalogue, More.
He performed, the emotional version of his hit “Mama”, – the solos are blisteringly fast and incredibly long. Then the band leader, Lovelace does his best to steal the show – his drum riser is half-way to the roof, brightly lit in order to highlight his circus of drumstick tricks. His showboating feels as if a show’s worth of fireworks has accidentally simultaneously exploded: it’s impressive but completely numbing after five full minutes.
Special guests add gloss to the evening and show how highly he is regarded. There is an appearance from Stonebwoy’s fellow artiste but, rap titan Yaa Pono sprints to the stage to spar over their summer anthem. Fameye marches out for a fervent delivery of his tunes, literraly exchanging a long hug with his fans, sensational rapper, Okukudam Sefa and King of the North, Maccasio were all on point with their artistry prowess. The evening ends with Shugah (featuring Beenie Man), the song that has spearheaded Afrobeats’ and reggae/ragga & dance-hall global expansion, its soft, enticing drums and echoing, easy hook digestible for ears from all continents. He finds his groove amid the tender piano chords and leads the crowd into a hypnotic sermon, closing out a historic night for a true giant of African music.