AT THE age of 65 one would imagine that Billy Ocean has lost his spark on stage but alas, the British singer-songwriter and the 1970s and 1980s rhythm and blues, pop and soul global hitmaker put up an energetic memorable show in Kampala on April 2, 2015.
Clad in a white suit, light-blue shirt, blue neck tie and black shoes Billy sent his fans in frenzy whenever he pulled slow cool stokes including the backslide with passion and stamina during the concert held at the Victoria Hall, Kampala Serena Hotel.
He thrilled his fans who parted with Ushs300, 000 ($99.9) for a gold ticket, Ush600,000 ($199.8) for an individual platinum ticket, and Ushs6 million ($1,998) for a corporate table of ten with some of his international hits including material from his recent 11-track album Here You Are released in 2013 under the Aqua Music label.
Accompanied by his 8-member band Billy kicked off his one hour-and-half live show at 9:30pm with his 1988 hit Tear Down These Walls – signaling that he was to bring down the walls of Victoria Hall.
After playing Bitter Sweet he greeted his fans in the name of Jesus Christ and said: “We thank you for welcoming us to your party tonight.”
Stay The Night, Red Light Spells Danger, The Colour of Love, Mystery Lady and There’ll Be Sad Songs (To Make You Cry) followed including Cry Me A River, A Change Is Gonna Come and No Woman No Cry off the album Here You Are.
During a break Billy said, “This is our third performance in Africa after South Africa and Ethiopia. I am in love with Uganda and Africa.”
The band got a rapturous ovation after performing his 1984 favourite single Suddenly.
Before playing Loverboy he asked: “Are you in love? Can I be your loverboy?” The crowd answered in the affirmative and sang and danced along.
As the band prepared to perform Get Outta My Dreams; Get Into My Car Billy inquired “If I was your loverboy would you get into my car?” “Yes,” the fans responded.
There after he asked, “Would you like some more?” “Yes” the fans replied. He then played one of the crowd’s favourite When the Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going).
Billy then pretended to take bow with his band off the stage – much to the dislike of his fans who loudly chanted “We want more. We want more…”
When Billy returned and took his fans to the Caribbean by playing Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).
Billy paid tribute to the “Ochieng tribe” referring to Ugandans who claim him as their own and prefer to call him Billy Ochieng or Ochieng Billie.
He concluded the concert with the improvised African Queen with lyrics of Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run).
Billy talked about how he got into music: “My dad played calypso music on his guitar but one day he returned home with a radio set. I had a feeling that a radio set must have gone missing somewhere because he could not afford one. Anyway good things come out of bad things. I was able to listen to musicians who influenced me like Nat King Cole, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke on the radio.”
The concert was organised by Masters Music in partnership with British Airways, Play Lotto, Rahab Uganda and Silk Events.
Part of the proceeds from the concert that was dubbed “Black Tie, Have Fun And Give Back” will go towards aiding Rahab Uganda, a charity organisation that rescues and rehabilitates young prostitutes off the streets.
Play Lotto’s Isaac Rucci said Billy Ocean is an iconic artiste, so they (the organisers) wanted to have a Black Tie-like event for a certain untapped audience that can enjoy expensive fun while also giving back to people in need.
So far over 200 girls have been reached by Rahab Uganda. Some have been resettled with capital and others are still undergoing rehabilitation. Currently 7 girls are in primary school, 6 in secondary school, 2 undergoing vocational training, 4 are in university about to complete, 5 recently graduated from vocational training school.
Rahab Uganda’s vision is to see a transformed nation promoting the value and self-worth of girls. While its mission is to restore the self-image of girls affected by sexual exploitation and empower them for personal and community transformation.