ALMOST all of the 30000 tickets were snapped up for the weekend’s R8-million Lotto-funded International Music Festival in Nelson Mandela Bay, featuring the likes of US singer George Benson and South African jazz icon Hugh Masekela.
In what turned out to be an electrifying event stretching into the early hours, revellers begged the likes of Masekela, Freshlyground and Goldfish for more.
The event was organised by EspAfrika, the company behind the successful Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and its success follows spectacular flops in years gone by like 2009’s Bay Summer Festival featuring Busta Rhymes.
Addressing the 29000 fans who flocked to the concert at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, EspAfrika chief operations officer Billy Domingo said: “We were told that people in this city don’t attend music festivals and our concert would flop, but you have proven them wrong. We will come back again next year and the following years because you have shown support.”
The event started with performances from Port Elizabeth group New Afro Teens, followed by Afro-pop group Fohloza. Things got heated during the performance by Jamali and Loyiso Bala, which saw a fan get down on one knee and propose to his 19-year-old girlfriend in front of the crowd.
Masekela, 72, showed no signs of slowing down and brought the house down as he performed hits like Umam’ Uyajabula, Khawuleza and Tanayi.
Benson, dressed all in black, pleased the crowd with favourites like The Greatest Love of All and Give Me the Night.
Municipal spokesperson Kupido Baron said no major incidents had been reported. He said three people selling fraudulent tickets at the stadium gates had been arrested.
“The three were found at the stadium’s gate by Nationwide Security on Saturday,” he said.
A free concert at Vuyisile Mini Square on Friday night featuring some of the same artists who performed on Saturday night was also jam-packed.