Updated: Jul 16
By Moses St Louis
It was a dazzling three-hour spectacle that incorporated all the volatility of the group Zafèm grand premiere. The event began with a little pre-show warm-up of a woman in a white dress dancing to the sound of a steady voodoo conga rhythm. The concert started with a red drape background with Reginald Cange appearing first, followed by Dener Ceide to a thundering welcome of about 1200 people.
Knowing how spiritual Dener and Reginald are prompted my curiosity to look deeper into their wardrobes. Reginald wearing a purple sharl, was not by accident. In the spirit of the “loas”, purple either stands for, “Gede” or “Legba”. The Gede is the family of "loa" that exemplifies the powers of death and fertility. And Legba is the old man who guards the crossroads. He (Legba) is the origin of life, so he must be saluted each time a service or any other activity with the loa is performed. Legba controls the crossing over from one world to the other. He is the contact between the worlds of spirit and flesh. Dener Ceide wore the multi-color scarf, which represents The Queen of Congo, this spirit is the spirit of joy who walks with Simbi. She is a lady who likes to be beautiful, happy, and loving. She is also a jealous queen. During the second set, both men wore black, but Reginald added a flair of red on his all-black outfit, which represents (Kafou), the crossroads. Dener remains in all black, which signifies "Baron", the gatekeeper of the cemeteries. This certainly was not done just for show.
Now, let’s get into the most important thing, which is the music. After a 39-hour marathon rehearsal of the band, leading to the grand premiere last night, finally, Zafèm was ready to strike their first musical note as a new band inside Melrose Ballroom. One of the boldest moves by Denver so far, Dener amplified something that’s not new to the HMI, but he mastered it to almost perfection, the concept of line synchronization, not only audio but visual as well. It wasn’t by coincidence that the band sounded as clean as a compact disk. It usually takes months of preparation to synchronize your musical playlist with visuals and sound. This usually happens at American music awards and concerts. The first handful of songs Zafèm played Saturday night (July 8)) at Melrose Ballroom — including “Lalin ak Solèy” “Abracadabra” and “Nikita” — set a comfortable vibe for the musicians with the audience singing along to every word of every song. As the night progresses, that warmth reception grew into full-on heat about a third of the way through the first set. The crowd roared at the first notes of every song. Vocally, Reginald rocked the house with ease. — to go from peaceful to possessed without warning. Dener and the band mostly left the singing to the crowd. After a brief intermission featuring the evening’s hosts Pipo St Louis and Carel Pedre, Zafèm returned to the stage fully plugged in and kicked off their second set. The concert remained transcendent as ever and it began to feel very special during the second set with the treatment of “Dlo Dous” and “Le Plein”, which were the crowd’s favorites. And as the show continued, the band continues to dive into their masterful debut CD to select songs, and also played a few covers, creating a richer journey into this musical experience. I like the fact that the production team made full use of the scope of the stage, it made the stage feel both expansive and intimate. It was a well-deserved moment in the spotlight for Zafèm, and an epic moment for all the performers. Reginald Cange might have had the kind of career we associate with the phrase “ The Ace” but he’s never had the spotlight to himself as a performer, his trademark as a prolific singer that everyone loves to watch was displayed as an expression of his natural exuberance. Reginald has much of the stage presence and charisma that he is known for. For so much of the show, the love was right there on the stage, so tangible that it was hard to understand, or even imagine, why he left the music scene for so long. The backup singers were perfectly but loosely choreographed to convey the message of the music. The music was accentuated by virtuosic lead guitar solos by band leader Dener Ceide. As the final notes echo through Melrose Ballroom, the audience erupted in thunderous applause and cheers, their hearts still soaring from the musical journey they had just experienced. Zafem did not disappoint. Dener and Reginal have proven their ability as a musical duo to be a force to be reckoned with, preparing to leave their mark on the HMI scene and etching their name in the hearts of their dedicated fans. Those were the pros. For the cons: One thing I noticed, Dener hardly plays the guitar while singing. It seems like his emotions and gestures while singing get in his way preventing him from playing the guitar at the same time. Also, Too much dead time between songs, especially for a concert. For the people on the balcony, the sound was not up to par, due to the fact for some reason, the balcony speakers were not on or not working. While reviews have been glowing so far, there were a few minuses that prevent Zafèm from scoring a perfect score. An area where Zafèm struggles to meet some expectations is the lack of improvisation, konpa music is built for that. I believe this is something the band will correct as the musicians get more comfortable with one another. Such was the cadence all night, something fresh, considered by many fans of konpa to be a new beginning. t's been a while since we welcome a newborn to the HMI. Let’s all welcome Zafèm!.Great show by the promoters, Jaz Enterprise and Westwood Entertainment. I report, you decide!
The musicians and staff: Dener Ceide (Maestro and lead singer) Reginald Cange (Lead singer) Peter Dumerjean (Keyboard) Guy Guerson Jules (2n guitar) Joshua Nazaire (Bass) Jean Dorestant (Conga) Jean Paul (floor tom) Riverson Louisaint (drum) PERECUSSION Mathew Donald. ( Trombone) Yacine Boulares (Sax) Kai Sandoval (Trumpet) MANAGEMENT Evens Rosemond ( Road manager) 2-Evens Blaise ( General manager) 3-Sergo Jean-Louis (stage technician) Background vocals Ludwine Joseph FREDLINE Vaillant aka Tasia Clints Pavelus Sound Engeneers Guy Beauvil Thierry