There was chaos backstage at Freddy Gwala’s show at Richwood Sports Club in Harare on Sunday after his locally-assembled backing band refused to go on stage demanding a top-up performance fee.
The local band was employed to back Gwala for his three-show tour when the South African musician arrived in the country with two vocalists instead of a full band.
The hastily-contracted band, which usually backs Jeys Marabini, demanded undisclosed payments for each show and backed the Amadara hitmaker for performances at City Sports Bar in Harare and Jabula Inn in Esigodini. They received their dues for the shows accordingly.
However, on Sunday the group made a U-turn just before Gwala’s performance and demanded a higher performance fee, allegedly arguing promoters had made a lot of money because the show was well attended.
The instrumentalists had gone on stage for sound check and signalled for Gwala to join them, but unexpectedly went off stage and a serious argument ensued.
Gwala stood baffled behind the stage as the scene unfolded for about 20 minutes.
Impatient revellers began whistling in disapproval demanding to see the South African musician on stage.
It took the intervention of a number of people that included local musician Albert Nyathi to persuade the band to go ahead with the show.
Show promoter Biggie Chinoperekwei confirmed the band had asked for more money, leading to the chaos.
“We had agreed on certain figures and I was surprised when they suddenly demanded that we give them more money,” said Chinoperekwei.
“They argued the show had attracted more people than the previous ones, adding it was not fair to perform for the amount we had initially agreed on. Their demands were exorbitant and we had to stick to our contract.”
Leader of the band Louis Ndlovu refused to comment on the issue referring questions to Chinoperekwei, but confirmed they had been paid for the whole assignment according to the contract.
Gwala lambasted the band for their conduct.
“What they did was unprofessional. I did not bring my band because they got work permits late and we could not travel together. I have worked with this local band before and they play my songs very well. I did not think they could attempt to betray me,” said Gwala.
However, Chinoperekwei was adamant they had sent work permits for Gwala’s band in South Africa on time and were surprised to see the musician coming with only two people.
When Gwala finally went on stage, he gave a brilliant performance and the band also did well, apparently covering up for the initial mishap.
Revellers enjoyed the show that also featured Oliver Mtukudzi and Jah Prayzah. However, Mtukudzi’s solo performance was lukewarm for the better part of his slot until his manager and drummer Sam Mataure joined him on stage to up the tempo.
Jah Prayzah gave a spirited performance.
Gwala left the country yesterday afternoon.