Since I was born, I’d say I have seen very few live performances from Nigerian musicians that blew my mind.
My favourite live performance so far has to be Sarkodie’s when he came to my university in Ghana to perform. I didn’t understand a lot of what he was singing because it was in Twi but the striking thing was how he commanded the crowd. The performance which lasted for about an hour, I think and was a free show ended on a high note. You could see the satisfaction on everyone’s face when he left which read ‘If I had to pay money for this, it would be totally worth it’.
Here was a performance where even the street kids around came to see and he treated everyone like they were all special; paying attention to every corner of the performance ground. He owned the stage as if he knew that even if it crashed to ground, he would still be alive because these people were his people. It was all for them. That moment sealed my admiration of him (which is why I stalk him occasionally on Twitter)
Olamide’s performance can be likened to his. I won’t address the issue of miming because after trying to understand the reason why we don’t rehearse for shows and perform live with the original recording covering our real voices, I got bored.
As Olamide climbed on stage, after the usual security being a nuisance and pushing everyone out of the way, the crowd went berserk.
Dressed in a shirt and pair of trousers with a towel hanging from the side of his right pocket, his dark shades on and an expression as if he had been nervous and had done a silent prayer to God for strength (Don’t ask how I saw it with him having his shades on, I did) he began.
At first, I wasn’t moved because I didn’t understand the songs and he seemed ordinary but then as time went on he hollered at the DJ and from what I could decipher from the hand gestures, laughs from the crowd and occasional slips of English language, he requested that the DJ play something he could rap to. (Correct me if I am wrong). The DJ switched the track and then, he began to amaze me.
His facial expressions and his bodily movements were mesmerizing. He did take his shades off and became a lot more comfortable and confident with the crowd he was performing for. They understood him. They were all in sync. It didn’t matter where they were from but the song he sang, it touched them to the bone and they felt he was singing for them. He owned the show. There was this one song ‘Illuminati’ He jumped around as if he was yelling and trying to emphasize a point to those who the song spoke about. Or was it when ‘Voice of the street’ came on? He seemed a lot happier than the crowd to be singing it. He dropped to his knees at a point as he rapped and I was like ‘Ok. Deep’
‘Durosoke’ blew me away. Well, because it was the one song I could sing along to a bit.
You could bring any artiste on stage to sing a song that everybody else knows how to sing along to. They could yell at the top of their voices trying to sing above the sound of the original track blasting from the speakers; they could even prance about to add some flavour to the performance but they would not move the crowd as much an artiste with just one song that truly understands what his spectator wants.
We could have bought your CD or downloaded your mp3, plug in our theatre system and listened to your song at the loudest volume but it is your presence we have come for. For you to give us something more electrifying than we could create. Let us feel your passion. That’s what makes a performer.
I am not saying that Olamide is the best or that Sarkodie is the illest but they gave me what I was looking for.
If you’ve got something to contribute or your own opinion, let me hear it.
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