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Why the golden oldies will never fade away

 Boys II Men.

The scene in the VVIP area of the Boyz II Men concert that took place in June at Uhuru Gardens said a lot about the people in attendance.

They wore ‘cheers baba’ jackets not for swag, but to beat the Nairobi cold. And that’s not all, they had scarves, and boots. Many are at an age where comfort comes first.  

For the concert cheekily named ‘the over 35s ‘heng’, they arrived before the sunset, and most left immediately, not waiting for the wee hours.  

It’s not a gig for vampires, but one for shakers and movers, changemakers who sit in boardrooms and corporate suites, and Nairobians whose networks are extensive. 

Jeff Koinange was in the dome. So was Joshua Oigara, Hassan Joho, Peter Kenneth, Johnson Sakaja, Nyashinski the fan, Gidi Gidi, Awinja, and Kate Actress, among others.

With tickets going for Sh30,000 (VVIP), Sh15,000 (VIP), and Sh8,000 for regular, the event was sold out,” a report of the event by The Standard’s Vincent Kejitan and Brian Aseli reading, ‘Unlike other events that often suffer from long queues and ticket-related issues causing frustration, this festival demonstrated the importance of meticulous planning.”

“We belong together, and you know that I’m right, why do you play with my heart? Why do you play with my mind?” they sang, hearts filled with nostalgia and joy, even as the rain pounded, and those at the back struggled to stay away from it, or even get a glimpse of the performers.

A veteran creative, industry insider, and entertainer David Muriithi, AKA Deejay Dlite, explains why the golden oldies are very specific to a certain demographic.

“The R&B singers, especially those who ruled the 90s, are extremely popular with a certain 38 to 55-year-old age group because of the impact the music had back in the 90s across our media. The event promoters rely on the nostalgic nature of that age group who also do not usually get to attend events targeted for their age group.”

Ashley Makena, who attended the gig with her girls’ ‘chama’, explains why she could not afford to miss what they collectively referred to as the ‘event of the year’.

“I don’t go out as often, maybe for a few cocktails every few weeks, but I could not miss Boyz II Men because that’s the music I grew up listening to. And those were the lyrics boys used to woo us with,” said the advertising guru. 

Though they paid for regular tickets and experienced the worst of the rain, bad sound, and technical mishaps with the screens, she felt it was worth being there. She found something of the whole situation to make fun of. 

“I guess it’s the adrenaline that made the situation a bit bearable. You are among your peers and fellow parents, so kinship is what makes these events a must-attend. And the ka-rain scene was what all these R&B videos had anyway, besides the shiny mabati suits!”

Boyz II Men were dressed in all-white for the performance, mirroring the era they came from, when the best music came from groups, music videos had a mandatory rain cut, singers preferred shiny suits and perm hair, and love was crop-tops were in fashion. 

It’s the era of Brian McKnight, Dru Hill, and Baby Face, mostly black artistes who moved the world to their beat in slow music that could be enjoyed in the presence of parents. 

With the over 35-year-olds in positions of influence, it makes sense why corporates are bankrolling these gigs, Stanbic Bank is the latest entry into the game, having brought Anthony Hamilton onto the country in 2022.

Before that, the real estate company brought Dru Hill, Jagged Edge Mya, Ginuwine, and 112 for mega shows. Tevin Campbell and SWV have rocked Nairobi, while UB40 grooved President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Besides the kings and queens of the 90s, Keri Hilson and Chris Brown came to wow the R&B fans, the latter in a highly publicised event that turned Mombasa into the most designed designation for one weekend. Tickets were going for as high as Sh50,000.

 Chris Brown

For event organisers, these R&B fans make for a lucrative venture, the clientele’s buying power a sure bet for revenues. 

Muriithi explains, “I think it may be more lucrative in the sense that you need fewer people with higher ticket prices to break even. Also, they are more appealing from a corporate support point of view.”

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