Review: Ringo Madlingozi At Kirstenbosch

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Ringo Madlingozi is renowned for delivering memorable and emotionally charged shows that leave the audience mesmerised. Not only does he have a commanding stature, a strong yet soothing voice and a powerful energy on stage but he has a unique ability to read and connect with his audience which, combined with his authentic African beats and sing-along melodies have the power to enthrall an audience.

Ululations and whistles filled the air at Kirstenbosch as Cape Town-born Madlingozi took to the stage with his band: Kenny Mshwana on drums, Theo Mofokeng on bass, Sandile Mgcina on keyboards, Floyd Manana on guitar and Themba Msomi on backing vocals, and launched straight into one of his hit songs from the album Ndim.

Entitled ‘Kwanele Ngesikhalo’ (Enough with the tears), the song is a passionate plea to everyone in pain and sorrow to let it go and to move on. Given some of the recent events in our country which have left families grief stricken, it was a typically powerful song from this dynamic singer, songwriter and performer par excellence.

In fact Madlingozi makes a point of using his music to address social ills.  His comments before he sang ‘Baleka’ (Run away), were to the point. No one should feel compelled to stay in abusive relationships for any reason whatsoever. He pleads for them to break away before it’s too late.

Another crowd favourite was ‘Into Yam’ which had everyone in the audience standing and singing along. Some concert goers looped their arms over the shoulders of their companions, other could be seen embracing because this is a song about affirmation of feelings. Adding more flavour to this particular song was a guitar solo from the gifted Floyd Manana who took us on an emotion-filled rollercoaster.

Other popular songs included: ‘Ndiyagodola’ (I’m feeling cold); ‘Ngekhe Ndikulibale’ (I’ll never forget you) and ‘Sondela’ (Come closer) all of which had concert goers singing and dancing along true testimony to Madlingozi’s unique ability to capture his audience with his catchy lyrics and melodies. His audience feel as if they own the song, as if they wrote the lyrics. Ringo Madlingozi is without a doubt the King of Xhosa ballads.

Then one of my all time favourite songs: ‘Nkqo Nkqo Molweni’. I could not have asked for more. The song, which also infuses Sotho lyrics, is a wonderful display of artistic ability and social conscience. Madlingozi uses Xhosa clicks to put forward the message of love, peace, unity and acceptance. In fact this song captures the essence of the Rainbow Nation and how we should embrace each other’s difference and work together towards a shared vision.  Members of the audience linked hands and, raising them in the air, sang in unison, ‘uthando luzonqoba’ (love will conquer).

What a performance.  What a man.  What a message.

Luvuyo Mncanca

Ringo Madlingozi performed at the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert Series on 17 March 2013.

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