AG Live: Adekunle Gold Is One Of Nigeria’s Elite performers
End of year concerts in Lagos have a typical format; Artists find the largest venue that a promoter can offer and sell tickets or/and get a sponsor who would tap into their influence to consolidate their brand. It’s a strategy that is seldom meddled with. It takes a lot more to chew up this template and create a new path. No one reinvents the wheel.
No one except Adekunle Gold. The Afropop singer has had an amazing year. His sophomore album, “About 30,” is critically acclaimed as one of the best projects of 2018, and he’s taken the music on the round, playing shows around the world. A renowned performer, the singer who has built a reputation for his mastery of live music, went a different way. Instead of one night, and one audience, he made it three. Three nights of making lightning strike at the same spot, 1400 people would pass through those doors.
Backstage, singer Wurld sat, staring into the distance while sounds of the audience interacting with the DJ’s set filtered through. He was the sole opening act of the night, waiting for his set time. Around him, a flurry activity from dancers, stage managers, and event handlers created an air of urgency. One lady with a weird headgear and dance suit, strolled past and waved with a smile. She was joined by another guy, who wore a hat littered with shiny stones. In one of the rooms, members of the 79th Element band sat ready to go for it. Adekunle Gold would arrive a few minutes later in high spirits.
Outside by the media wall, a lady was complaining to me. She had made the trip down to the venue on the second night and experienced a show that didn’t leave her insides screaming with joy. She recognized me as a music journalist, and let her complain fly off. “I expected more,” she passionately explained, her hand gesticulating wildly, matching the high emotion in her voice. “I am his biggest fan, and so I didn’t write anything on social media. But I wasn’t happy.”
She was a weird fan. After failing to enjoy the previous night, she showed more faith by buying two tickets for the closing night. One was for her. When I asked who the other beneficiary of her disappointed fandom was. She pointed to her left where a lady was striking her best pose for a photographer. “That’s my younger sister, she said. Her voice was resigned. ” I hope Adekunle Gold does not disappoint her. It’s her first time of seeing him. It will break her heart.”
Inside, Wurld was already on stage. His blue hair was caught up in a blue light. He engaged and sang through his set list which contained songs such as ‘Show you off’, ‘Trobul’, and ‘Contagious.’
Adekunle Gold, wearing a red royal robe, over nothing but bare skin, hit the stage to flashing lights from two cold spark fountains. A white keytar was his opening instrument of choice. It was slung over his shoulder, and he struck a rockstar pose as he played it. That imagery of him and the keytar, the lights, the rushing band, and the blending multi-layered sounds, was an instant boost. It was beautiful. It felt ethereal. By my right, the lady who had a problem earlier had her phone in the air and a wide smile on her face. She was capturing this brilliance on a camera. Just like a lot of other people in the crowd. Social media generation!
“I’m a rockstar,” Adekunle Gold said He had a grin on, because he knew the madness he had done. “You can take my photo now.”
From there, he provided one of the most masterful performances that I have ever seen on the concert circuit. He blended songs from both albums to effect, but favoring the tracks off of “About 30.” When ‘Surrender” came on, he attempted an awkward Gwara gwara move, that was funny. Before ‘Beautiful night’, he gassed the audience by calling them “Beautiful faces.” He started off his somber ‘Fame’ song by saying “The life of a star isn’t easy. When I’m with my friends, I feel alone.” It was an emotion that everyone could connect to.
Dynamism came in heavy doses and celebrity. Olamide and Asa joined in his expansive set. Their cameos, timed for effect. While Baddo led everyone on a sing-along of ‘Melo melo’, Asa harmonized with his energy and vocals on ‘Ire’. Elsewhere, he switched his robe for another outfit with a red cape, which didn’t look corny at all. And just like magic, everyone was treated to a few minutes of Adekunle Gold wearing large headsets, operating the DJ deck, and jamming along. His poor mixing and lack of a smooth transitioning, made everyone enjoy the session even more. This was a sight they might never experience again. “I say make I try my hand for this thing,” he explained, pleased with himself. We appreciate the effort. He had cued in DJ Spinall’s ‘Baba’, after Falz’s bouncy ‘Soft work.’ But we loved it like that.
But the crown of the night was more special. ‘Damn Delilah,” a song about exes had a sideshow. Adekunle called on a lady, who offered her ex up for the night. Fortunately for him (the poor guy was named Abdul), he didn’t pick up the phone. But not to worry. The lady had a chance to perform alongside Adekunle Gold, and the crowd yelled: “F**k you Abdul!” If ever that relationship had any lingering ghosts, this was the great dispeller of bad romance. At the end of the song, she got a very tight hug from the star and jumped right into the crowd. F**k Abdul. For real.
The night ended with Adekunle Gold theatrically firing shots of confetti in the air, and everyone waving finger lights. Adekunle Gold had done it again. His band took a bow, his manager walked around hugging her friends and guests out of happiness for what has been achieved and everyone walked away, happier and lighter than they went in. His parents were in the crowd too. They must have been so proud.
Ever wondered how things ended for the lady who had concerns earlier? Well, he abandoned her home training at many points in the night, rocking the air, moving side to side, screaming about how she loves “this guy”, and capturing almost everything on her mobile device. I would say, she didn’t fare badly. It was a happy ending for her, her sister, me, Adekunle Gold, and everyone else, including the ex-boyfriend Abdul.
His mother’s prayers saved him. He should have picked that call.