Export Packaging – Wizkid in Concert

For some reason, I had never attended a Nigerian concert here in London until Wizkid came calling yesterday. Couple of random thoughts on the event

1. I have seen Neyo, John Legend and Hillsong at the HMV Apollo in the past so I know the sound at the venue is fine. Otherwise I might have been tempted to blame the venue for the poor sound. It started off well but then got worse as the evening went on especially at the times when there were a couple of people performing on stage at the same time. At that point it just became a lot of noise.

2. I think Wizkid himself is shy. He seemed to draw comfort from the crowd right in front of him in the front row and at some point it felt like he was performing for them alone. I’d say, just by sight, that there was a bigger crowd in the galleries but he never looked up once to acknowledge us (and yes, we paid much more than the people downstairs in front of him). 

3. The tickets to the show were sold on Ticketmaster which is one of the world’s biggest ticket sellers. Essentially there was nothing stopping a random white guy who had never heard of Nigeria before but looking for some fun, from buying a ticket and coming to find out what Wizkid was all about. 

So, even though the crowd was probably 99% Nigerian, this was essentially a Nigerian export and should therefore conform to the standards of the market where it is being exported to and not neccesarily the Nigerian market. 

4. Wizkid is popular, there is absolutely no doubt about that. He’s also got an army of adulating fans who will easily make him into a superstar. So that side of the equation is sorted. The missing bit is what he gives them in return through live performances. At this concert he had no backing singers or band. This is weird and meant that he was singing over a recording of his own songs (a big reason for the bad sound). You come to a concert because you want to hear the musician sing to you, anything less and you feel short changed.

The lack of backing singers or dancers also meant he couldnt ‘own’ the stage like he should have when you have a whole team working for your success on the night. This will come with time I imagine but it’s something to work on immediately. People paid to come see Wizkid so the whole event should have revolved around him with a steady build up. As it turned out, Eddie Kadi was a godsend as he managed to hold the crowd entertained for well over 2 hours. 

Basically a little bit of more planning wont be a bad thing. It’s the Nigerian way and is fine for Nigeria I guess but this is now an export competing with various other exports. 

It’s that final push that will get people to buy t-shirt, merchandise and anything else branded by the musician. Otherwise people might wlk out feeling like they have already dont enough for the artiste simply by turning up. And the tickets were not exactly cheap. By way of comparison, what I paid for one ticket to see Wizkid is roughly about what I paid for 2 tickets to see Anthony Hamilton recently. 

5. The crowd was huge. Huge. Maybe the doors were let open towards the end but by the time he was rounding up, there was hardly any space to move in the galleries anymore. The crowd was also very very young so much so that I felt serioulsy old like I was there to chaperone the event. 

I wont pretend to know how the music industry works these days but having so many young fans looks to me like a whole bunch of people that can ‘grow up’ with the artiste possibly right up to the time when they are have more earnings to play around with. Afterall the reason why people like Boyz II Men are still singing is because people like me became their fans a long time ago and will continue to patronise them.

 

I like the kid and I hope he gets better on stage in concert. People really like him and what he represents so what’s left is what he decides to give his fans in return. Whatever it turns out to be, Wizkid ‘experience’ needs to be developed for the stage so people can take that away with them when they pay to go see him in concert. 

I think that when it comes to exporting Nigerian music, all the low hanging fruit have been plucked. The music is out there already on radio, iTunes and everywhere else. What’s left now is the hard bit – bringing up to truly world class levels where it can easily compete with anything else out there. This is also where I think there’s serious money to be made, afterall you cant really pirate a concert experience…you either pay to attend or you dont. In this regard, linking up with Akon is probably a very good thing. 

 

5.5/10 but I will go see him again if he’s back in town. And buy his next album too.

FF

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4 thoughts on “Export Packaging – Wizkid in Concert

  1. I think if a Nigerian musician knows how to play an instrument, s/he’d be more compelled to show that talent. For the likes of Asa, Cobams and other artistes who play some musical instrument or the other, they tend to have a different presence on stage with the help of back up singers and subtle changes in the melody to give a breath taking performance. (Psquare is known for their exceptional dance routines at live performances so one shouldn’t think not modifying the tune/having a live band/back up singers is the only way to add some level of excitement). They seem to forget the fact that they have to out-perform what we’ve already experienced…..for instance, they have to do something to take the entertainment-high a step further from what it was when we watched the video or heard the entire album and not take diminish the established high.

    I’m sure they’d learn soon enough once the CD starts skipping at performances.

  2. Touche!!! I was at the Dbanj concert a while back and i felt exactly the same way…especially the feeling old bit. however! I looked around and it was amazing as people just seemed to be having great fun. I asked myself why it hurt me so bad that i was watching this great artiste singing with the aid of the same CD i had stopped in the car on my way to the venue just be set the tone; maybe it was because i was old really having listened and watched the likes of Skyy, Lakeside, Shalamar, Third World live on stage in my days at the University of Ife. I was pained cos we could get it right but we choose the easy and base way simply because people will accept it anyway. i wish for a change that we all cry about and imagine it must be on the part of government…NO, this is one of the ways we can show that we do have a culture of perfection. What do I know sef…

  3. Recently watched a video of Beyonce preparing for her concert. You would think that it was more than a concert she was preparing for (Lighting, cue songs, her various positions through out the night-the whole works!!). Nigerian artistes have got to learn the art of live shows seriously. I salute your courage to go see that show. The only Nigerians i would pay any amount to hear singing live are Asa and King Sunny Ade. I’ve got your CD, give me a better reason to hear the same song live..

  4. I MADE THIS COMMENT ON THE NETNG SITE.
    My worst fears have been confirmed.
    I have a funny feeling that these guys are trying to walk before crawling.
    The rush for foreign concerts are bit too premature.
    Develop your craft at home before exposing yourself abroad.
    in this day and age,pay money to watch someone mime over his CD? na jazz???
    The last time i watched someone perform live without back up singers and instrumentals was at FAZE album launch at Planet One,8 years ago.
    Since then if only attend concerts where i am guaranteed lie music,if not i walk.
    No exceptions.Look at 2face,as recently as 5 years ago his live performances were poor but he has worked on his craft so much that now he comfortably performs with a band and his stage craft is ever improving. A good example was his recent album launch.
    Reason why i will pay my last naira to see Sound Sultan on stage. He does it live and works hard at it despite not having as many hits as some. I drove all the way to the shrine the other day to see Femi perform because i knew the music would be live and their might be new interpretations of old track. The same reason why i miss Lagbaja’s disappearance from Motherlan’.
    Even with all his stage craft (he is sure good at), i will never watch Dbanj sing over a CD. It is fraud and an abuse of the money paying concert goer.
    Wizkid will be defended for being a kid.If so, then he should stick to what kids do and stop wanting the dividends reserved for elders. All these Euro and American tours are premature.Expand distribution channels,while working on your craft behind the scenes.With the distribution channels entrenched, the masses will be yearning for you all over and when you show up, you make them wanting for more.
    I hope all Banky is teaching him is not just how to swirl Rose and Hennessey?

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