By John Owoo
(In Malmo – Sweden)
Sunrays filter through the gentle breeze at the Pildamms Amphitheatre in the Swedish city of Malmo as an over capacity crowd eagerly await a concert by the Ghanaian highlife legend Pat Thomas.
As the musicians emerge from the back stage, the audience shows appreciation with an applause, which culminates with a loud roar as the highlife maestro walks on stage in a colourful yellow and blue costume.
The amphitheater gradually turns into a kind of health spa as intense energy from the seventy-five year old Thomas and his musicians including percussionist Eric Owusu, Berlin based saxophonist Ben Abarbanel-Wolff and guitarist / keyboardist Kwame Yeboah inundate the venue
Reworked evergreen highlife tunes like “Mewo Akoma”, Gyae Su”, “Odo Be Ba” and “Me Ho Asem” noticeably fused with Sikyi, Osode, Afrobeat, jazzy brass lines and interweaving electric guitars gradually move their way into the hearts of members of the audience – and they react with cheers and applause as they hit the dance floor.
“This is the original groove that reminds mankind to be in cohesion – indeed, the concert is full of joy and it’s undeniably contagious – all the young people here are dancing”, says Karen V. Rasmussen, a guitarist who is working towards distinctive and global consciousness.
“It’s a tremendous feeling to see Pat Thomas perform in Malmo with additional inflections to his original compositions – I have not seen him on stage for nearly thirty years. This is an unforgettable evening”, continues Kwaku Boateng, a Ghanaian resident in Malmo.
In a good way, Thomas, who is known as the golden voice of Africa, is able to pull from these musicians, who are known collectively as the Kwashiebu Area Band, while crafting an aesthetic appeal that is uniquely his. He takes on a director’s role as he steps aside vocally thereby allowing his features to shine.
Alongside a compelling stage presence, the musicians seem to be having fun with each other as they crisscross the stage in near choreographic movements while sporadic solos and duets calmly add up to the sheer exuberance of the crowd.
Pat Thomas and the Kwashiebu Area Band is currently on tour of several cities in Europe – and is set to perform to a huge crowd at the Roskilde Festival, which is held annually in the Danish town of Roskilde.
The performance in Malmo, forms part of Summer Scene festival, a three-month long event, which takes place in diverse venues throughout the city, which is noted as the cultural capital of Southern Sweden.