You would think that the unusual move to have a gospel concert on Friday night – and not the habitual Saturday – would be a recipe for a lukewarm turn out. But not the Airtel Adom Praiz team.
There were no fears about the numbers that will turn up. There were fears about the numbers that may be turned out.
The 14-000 seater capacity of the Perez Dome was filled. No need to do PR about facts. The isolated boxes on the left and right flowed with Adom Praiz enthusiasts and Brooklyn Tabernacle fans.
Kwasi Twum would be a thoroughly satisfied man. Some hours to the event, he was seen arranging chairs.
When you see a good number of pensioners at Airtel Adom Praiz, you may have to feel some guilt for staying home.
Joy Sports presenter Nathaniel Attoh did a Spoken Word performance to prove that the commentary box was not his limit.
Obaa Pa Christie will take the best-dressed artiste, her dancing backers will take the worst dressed. The wriggling of buttocks cannot be a strategy to attract heaven.
Perhaps two artistes who were very much aware this is not merely about entertainment was Joe Mettle and the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir. They were the most authentic performers.
The most energetic and engaging will have to be Francis Amo.
It is 2016, and despite a drab economy, the audience appeared to say “I never lost my praise” and at the back on the 5-hour experience, you could say ‘they never lost their 50 cedis too’.
There were times, like Francis Amo’s energy drink-requiring performance, when the upper terrace of the Dome bounced. The concrete, rods and pillars shook in inanimate participation of a very animated worship of God.
Francis Amo gets you to worship God with your body. Joe Mettle who gets you to worship with your soul. Brooklyn Tabernacle gets you to worship God with your spirit.
Thus the three completed the divine command to worship the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your spirit. The trinity is complete.
One of the Tabernacle Choir singers, a Nigerian-born American got appreciative applause when she told the audience” I am so glad to come home”.
And a very moving exhortation, she presented would have done a good job of breaking up some barriers to praising God. She said, after mother passed three months ago, her choir director told her ‘now you get to live the word of God’.
When she explained that “the bible is not just a story. It is an experience…every page every word every sentence” is living, she touched a spiritual nerve, you would think from the response.
The 20-member choir and a six-man instrumentalists sang for perhaps the longest time by a foreign act. Alvin Slaughter’s sister was one of them. A woman who would easily pass as your grandmother was active on her feet the whole time. And she got the chance to lead a very upbeat song. Age was no excuse.
The Choir wore a modest blue jeans top and African print blouse. For the six men in the choir, they knew the gentleman’s dress code – you can never go wrong with a black trouser.
The modesty was quite what Christianity is all about. True you can buy it, true you can like nice in it, but no, and flamboyance is not quite a gospel message. So the choir made their voices do the flamboyant praising while their dress preached a silent gospel message of modesty.
There is still something to say about Joe Mettle. He is now an accepted sweetheart of the gospel music industry. It doesn’t sound blasphemous to say he could be Danny Nartey’s heir.
Immediately after his performance, a minute silence was held in honour of the departed gospel icon. Joe Mettle has no stage performance skills to show. And it is simply because he is not interested in it or does he look like he needs it.
He made little effort to arouse the crowd with commanding gestures or charismatic jumping and rolling over. He is just fixated on constructing a highway to heaven through powerful melodies. He can attack with praise but his best position is defending God’s sovereignty with worship.
In a spirit of appreciating talent and not competing for glory, it is safe to say that what Joe Mettle lacks in stage performance, Francis Amo abounds in the craft. He left the stage the most-sweat soaked artiste. And he had barely 15 minutes to work us all up.
His dance moves were for youths- only. No experienced mothers and grannies allowed. We danced some South African moves, came back to Nigeria and later skirted around Ghanaian songs and there was a real possibility we could head to Jamaica from the evidence of his dancing skills.
The yellow dress of his backers was brilliantly attractive enough to occasionally get our attention off the David-like dancing moves of Francis Amo.
Minister Denzel did an impressive job raising the bar for everyone.
You couldn’t fault any artiste performance in their desire to connect and to give off their best.
When Pastor Ato Acquah announced Airtel was giving free credit, every Airtel user gripped the phone to assault the key pads in the hope that he or she would be the first to get all digits in the fastest time. After two three tries without success, I gave up. What Usain Bolt does on the tracks, some do on the keypad.
And so after more than two hours, from 8:55 to 11:15pm – The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir ended an authentic ministration, a Christ-centered singing. Their last song brought the audience to their feet for one hard last time – ‘Every Praise’.
And as they walked off the stage, it was a very reluctant walk. A couple of them hesitated. They looked back and waved as they slowly walked away. We stood there waving a genuine love at them too.
Five hours had passed. We were back to earth. But we won’t mind. We had been to heaven. Everything will be alright.