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Osibisa oozes joyous music
They came, rocked and moved out. Osibisa was a fitting finale for the 2009 edition of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest. On the evening of November 22, the Afro-rock band – coming to Chennai after a hiatus of three decades – made the charged-up audience at the Music Academy sing, clap and dance to its music beats. Through out the nearly two-hour show, Band Osibisa held the audience – comprising a large contingent of youngsters - in a trance. It’s an old band, no doubt. But Band Osibisa evoked extreme emotions that ranged from wild shouts to spontaneous claps and vigorous dancing.

As the audience outpoured its emotions, there was merger of moods. There was harmony in communication between the performers on the stage, who turned up in multi-colour dresses, and the audience.

Jeans-clad boys and girls, excited young kids, finely dressed women, curiously clothed men, officially-dressed persons, traditional-looking guys and serious-faced foreigners – the audience comprised a huge mix of assorted music buffs cutting across age and gender. It was a twice-blessed show. If it had blessed the huge audience with tones of happiness in the end, it had brought immense feeling of joy for the young-at-heart Teddy Oesi, the leader of the band, and his energetic team.

Osibisa was started in 1969 by three musicians from Ghana and three from Caribbean.

And, the band was largely responsible for making African music popular in Europe and North America in the 1970s. Founder Teddy Osei might have grown old since his last visit to this country. But the energy level in him has not dimmed. The music of Band Osibisa on this evening was fresh, vibrant and appealing. Clearly, their show reiterated the universality of music and its boundary-less character. As he was savoring every moment of his show at this famed venue, Teddy Osei wished everyone a merry Christmas.

Many would not have heard the band before. For those who had heard it, however, this was a life-time opportunity to see, feel and experience Teddy Osei & Co. perform in a live show. The joy was flowing all over the Academy. Indeed, Osibisa lived up to the great expectations of the wild audience and produced a mind-blowing music with a high level of energy till the very end of the show. And the audience was not willing to head home even as the band ended its music. This promoted Osibisa to say in a laughing way, "Go home! We will be back again, sooner this time."

The melodious music “The Dawn” in the beginning with familiar lyrics made an instant impact on the audience. Teddy Osei played Saxophone, vocal and drums as well, Gregg Brown played the rhythm guitar and vocal. Emmanuel Rentzos played the keyboard and vocal. While Wendell Richardson played the lead guitar and vocal, Herman Asofo Agyei played the bass guitar. Nii Okine Tagoe Jembe was on the Congas. Alex Swaku Boateng Drums and Colin Graham played the trumpet.

There was this number “Don’t play with fire”. The real entertainer came when they took up the popular “Ojah Awake” As they sung the prayer song - Woyaya (“we are going, heaven knows where”), there with high involvement and melody. Gandhiji’s “Raghupati Raghav..” sent a huge wave of joy across the audience, which joined in the singing. To hear Osibisa sing this number proved an excitement in itself. Teddy Osei then sang a song about traditional villagers sipping palm wine. “Killele,” he thundered. ``Avo Avo Killele, Mama Mama Killele and Papa Papa Killele’’. Well, everybody began to sing with him. “Ayiko Bia,” he said. This means well done. “Music for Gong Gong” was rhythmic with the drums playing reverberating beats. Then there was this music of happiness. Needless to say everybody stood up and danced putting their hands together in joy. “Welcome home, welcome to Africa” showed up the warmth in the musicians. The show came to an end with a few newer compositions such as “Watusi” and “Patha Patha”.

Well, the show may have ended. But the music is reverberating still.