Jonathan Butler Was Here To Thrill
The South African Singer-Guitarist-Producer knew he was in for a pleasant time when he touched down with his band in Accra last Thursday and an airport official sang a line from one of his songs to him instead of the simple ‘Akwaaba’ greeting he was expecting.
That cheerful encounter might have fired up Jonathan Butler for last Saturday night’s concert at the Accra International Conference Centre where he delivered 90 minutes of rousing stuff supported by a drummer, bass guitarist, keyboards player and a back-up singer.
Organised by Dominic Oduro-Antwi’s Outlook Minik company the concert was staged with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health to raise funds in support of maternal health in this country. It had been scheduled earlier for July 31 but had to be pushed back to August 27.
The music of Jonathan Butler is an acquired taste and though it was not a full house at the Conference Centre last Saturday (another music show was happening next door at the Dome), attendance was still fair for the chart-topping, Grammy- nominated left-handed jazz-oriented guitarist.
It was an expectant audience that welcomed him with a loud applause when he emerged on stage in a white long-sleeved shirt over a black pair of trousers. He lunged straight into his popular Africa song before pausing to say how blessed he felt to be in Ghana.
He and his small backing band showed that energy was an essential factor in turning over a tight, well-rehearsed and stimulating package. They were effective as a unit even as they took turns with gripping solos.
Butler allowed each member to showboat at various times but he all along proved his prowess as a singer, guitarist and compelling performer. He moved into the audience at a point and easily got everyone to clap or stand and sing along with him at other times.
He did original material and also gave the audience his charming renditions of some popular songs such as Bob Marley No Woman No Cry, Staple Singers’ If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me), Miriam Makeba’s Pata Pata and Bill Withers’ Ain’t No SunShine.
When Butler announced he was done for the night and ran off the stage, there was a yell for an encore. He obliged and came back to bring the curtain down with his 1987 Grammy-nominated hit single, Lies. It was an extremely enjoyable show.
Opening acts for Butler on the night included guitarist Ackah Blay and his Abiza band who were highly impressive and the Eclipse jazz group which featured a lady with a dazzling rendition of a popular local gospel tune called Makuma Ahyema.