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Bulawayo boy behind Casper Nyovest's #FillUpOrlando

by Staf reporter
06 Nov 2016 at 07:49hrs | Views
ON the days immediately prior to the show sleep was almost illegal. This was very hard on our bodies because we got in a maximum of four hours sleep on the days leading up to the concert. We mainly slept between 4am and 8am."

These were the words of keyboardist, and South Africa's Cassper Nyovest's trusted lieutenant Almonte "Alie Keys" Mthombeni, the man who was trusted with bringing to reality the rapper's dream to fill Orlando Stadium to the rafters.

The frenetic few days leading to the attention grabbing spectacle played out in front of the Cowdray Park-born Alie, who was in the middle of the magnetic Nyovest's attempt to draw 40 000 people to one of South Africa's most loved stadia.

Speaking to Sunday Life a few days after the event, Alie was still in disbelief at the magnitude of the event whose reverberations were heard and felt throughout the continent.

"As the musical director of the whole thing, I feel like I can wake up tomorrow and retire. I never thought as a director I could be part of something like that in my life. It was a like a dream. I feel like I have seen it all", he said.

Those who did not have the pleasure of joining Nyovest and other stars on Saturday night could only piece together the fascinating Fill up Orlando Stadium puzzle from the bits thrown their way by those who attended. Thus pictures and videos were not only evidence that one was in the thick of things, but a way to capture and relay the spectacle that eluded those outside the 30 000 plus that attended the momentous event.

From these stolen moments, they would have made out that Nyovest and his crew had put together a visual feast, with a futuristic stage that looked like something snatched from a scene in a sci-fi flick.

After last year's floating stage the rapper this time went instead for a rotating one, with a drone hovering menacingly over proceedings. Brilliant multi-coloured lights contributed to the spectacle's dazzling effect. According to Nyovest, over a 100 cameras were used to film the whole concert, with the recording likely to get the same treatment as the Fill Up The Dome DVD which premiered on Channel O a few weeks back.

However, while fans came to the stadium expecting such a feast and got served one, for Alie it was different as, unable to watch from the crowd, he was like a chef who could not savour his own meal. In fact, as leader of the band that was an essential part of the spectacle, he was also served as part of the main course by the audacious Nyovest.

"I could not see anything so I don't know what it actually looked like. All I could see was the sea of people and I have only managed to see some of the things that happened on stage from videos and pictures people were posting on Instagram and twitter. I wish I could have also seen it," he said.

With the stage grabbing the people's attention visually it was thus also important that the music, Alie's forte, was also up to scratch. Although he had to check with Nyovest after every important decision, Alie was left to tinker with the band as he saw fit in the lead up to the event. His head was therefore on the guillotine as, like during the Fill Up The Dome show, he would have been the man to blame had anything gone wrong with the sound on the night.

"I had to bring in new members to the band because instead of the 12 songs we performed last year, we had to play 34 songs instead. This year there was more emphasis on Cassper and this made the task all the more difficult."

"We had three weeks to rehearse so we didn't have much time. During that time I found a new keyboardist and also replaced a drummer," he said.

With the bright lights ablaze and some of Africa's music luminaries, who included Wizkid, Riky Rick, Emtee, Babes Wodumo and Doc Shebeleza shining beneath them, Alie could not help but cast an eye on his own journey in the South African music industry.

"I grew up in the dusty Bulawayo, Cowdray Park but I was there among all those people. That should tell you anything is possible. In all this I have to also acknowledge Nyovest because he chose me to direct such a huge show when he could have easily got someone from America. That's what people generally do around the world," he said.

After having successfully tamed the monster that is Orlando Stadium, Alie has his gaze fixed on even more challenging tasks.

"After being the musical director at the Dome I learnt something and the same goes for Orlando. I look forward to whatever comes next," he said.

Source - online

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