When Asa Found Love Again In Berlin
Nigerian music had one of its best advertisements in Berlin on Monday night, February 24, when Asa played to a packed, standing-room-only audience, inside the Heimathafen Neukoln hall on one of the stops for her 2020 European tour. Berlin was the third stop on her six-city German tour this month. It was a performance that picked some of the greatest songs from her quarter-of-a-century oeuvre and highlighted what would be the future path for the singer-songwriter.
Since dropping her hit ballad “Eye Adaba” in 2006, Asa, born Bukola Elemide, has serenaded broken hearts while filling the dance floor with excited revellers. In Berlin on Monday night, Asa took us down memory lane as she sang her classics backed up by her five-person band. She also performed songs from her 2019 album, Lucid.
Dressed in a white crop top that teased a black bra and showed off a firm torso, the 37-year-old got the crowd into sing-alongs as she performed the early hits Fire on the Mountain and Jailer from her self-titled first album. The international audience danced to her more up-tempo offerings “Why Can´t We” and “Be My Man”. There was excitement when she performed the sad contemporary number, “Murder in the USA” and the love song “Good Thing” from the recent Lucid album, among many others.
The night ended with her performance of “Ba Mi Dele”, a soulful mix of Yoruba and English, where she went on to serenade a handsome young man in the audience. Wale Afolabi, who told this writer that he had been listening to the singer since 2006, impressed Asa by his knowledge of her lyrics as she sang. So she ended the concert by singing to him as she held the astonished fan in a close hug. It was a union between a doting fan and the singer who found a unique, loving face out of a crowd of eager suitors.
As she continues to make great music and tour some of the biggest cities in the world, one still wonders why Asa has not yet earned a Grammy nomination like her Nigerian contemporaries Seun Kuti and Burna Boy? Her style is one of the better musical exports from Nigeria in the last decade. Surely Asa deserves more credit than she has received so far. In a time of pop Afrobeats explosion on the global stage, the singer is a living, breathing pointer to the diversity of the Nigerian musical offering.