For the reported $30,000 (Sh3.6 million) he collected as performance fees, Nigerian Afrobeat star Ruger delivered a disheartening performance at the Walker Town concert at the Kinoru Stadium in Meru town on Saturday night.
The much-hyped event was organised by YDX Agency and financially backed up by the main sponsor, Jonnie Walker.
Whereas Johnnie Walker outdid itself by beautifully setting up the 10,000-capacity venue, Ruger, the main headline of the concert, was the night’s major disappointment.
With the available affordable tickets that retailed at Sh1,000 for advance and Sh2,500 for VIP, the event attracted more than 3,000 revellers, most of them university students.
The crowd had looked forward to some tantalising performances from the lineup that included Sol Generation duo Bensoul and Nviiri The Story Teller, rapper Femi One and a host of local deejays.
The gates opened around 6pm, with DJ Lisney taking charge. Lisney played the longest set of the night and marvelled the crowd.
The master of ceremony, radio presenter Sheila Kwamboka, alias Kwambox, officially took charge of the proceedings at 8.30pm.
Known for her dance swag, Kwambox, a group of dancers, and Lisney’s set combined to get the crowd worked up.
“DJ Lisney had an outstanding set and I believe it’s because of the incredible energy Kwambox brought on stage. The hype from her was amazing,” recounted Owen Wesonga, a videographer.
After an hour, Femi One took to the stage but her performance wasn’t as alluring, with the “Utawezana” hitmaker appearing to struggle with keynotes with sharp high voice pitches her undoing.
Kwambox would then return to the stage and manage to return the excitement to the crowd before paving the way for Sol Generation.
By any standards, Bensoul and Nvirii delivered the most outstanding performance of the night. The duo seemed to have rehearsed pretty well ahead of the show, delivering a beautiful live set to the satisfaction of the crowd.
They were so good that the crowd cheered them on even after their allocated two hours had run out.
Sol Generation had the crowd by the hip to the extent of using them to shout a video of their upcoming album project set to drop in a month or so.
Once gone, deejays took turns on the turntables, before the man of the hour took to the stage at exactly 1.15am.
The ‘Girlfriend’ hitmaker had been allocated a performance time of one and a half hours but it lasted only 38 minutes.
His set also lacked energy from the minute he got onto the stage despite the warm applause and standing ovation he received from the exuberant crowd that was looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
From the start, Ruger tried to entertain the crowd with some of his unpopular songs that only got the crowd deflated.
“For Christ's sake, why can’t he perform the songs we know him for? What is he doing,” screamed Jacky Muraya, an irked fan in the VIP lounge.
Of all the songs he is known for in Kenya, Ruger performed only “Bounce”, “Dior” and “Girlfriend”.
The artiste arrived in Meru in the daytime on Friday and had the chance to test the stage.
At exactly 1.53am, Ruger exited the stage, perhaps taking notice of the disgruntled crowd. The DJs took over, with the crowd now shifting focus to mingling until the wee hours of Sunday morning.
On the same night, another Nigerian artiste, Oxlade, known for his “Kulosa” hit song, left revellers at the 7 Island concert dejected with another substandard performance.
According to a reveller who attended the concert, Oxlade gave a wack performance even with “Kulosa”.
“Oxlade's performance was generally a bad one. For all I can remember, he was off-key the entire time of his performance. Even the playback didn’t help at all. It was poor,” content creator Tracey Gachie told the Nation.
Again, Kenyan artistes, Sauti Sol vocalist Bien Aime Baraza and Boutross, saved the day.
“Honestly, Bien did serenade us, oh my goodness, his performance was one to die for. He and Boutross did such a great job,” she added.