Tuface and Chocolate City Boiz thrill New York fans at United Sounds of Africa Concert.
“Follow my Instagram”
That became the catchy and (un) official tagline (courtesy of Ice Prince) for the New York leg of the United Sounds of Africa concert which held Tuesday, August 7th at the Irving Plaza.
Billed to perform were Tuface, M.I, Jesse Jaggz, Ice Prince, Brymo, J Martins and Timi Dakolo – with such ‘heavy hitters’ from the Naija music scene, I was prepared for a mad crowd of fans but was looking forward to a “Naija scene’ nonetheless.
Running a little late due to other work commitments, I didn’t arrive at the venue till an hour and a half after the advertised 7pm start time. I wasn’t sure what to think of the sparse sprinkling of people outside – did everyone come early or did I just arrive very late? I got my answer when I walked into the venue.
The strains of “Mo Lowo Noni” could be heard as I ascended the stairs and hopping in anticipation of being swallowed into a sea of grooving bodies, I walked into the concert hall and had to stop myself from gawking – the place was empty.
Samklef was on stage doing his thing with a group of maybe 10 concert goers crowding round the stage while the rest of the populace ( about 4 clusters of 5 people each) were milling about; largely uninterested in what was happening on stage.
Hoping that this was just a bad case of “African time” I believed more people had to show up and settled in to enjoy the concert. Timi Dakolo was up next and I have to say, I developed new respect for his voice.
Performing with a live band; his rich, raspy, warm tones did incredible justice to his songs and he finished off his set with his first released single ‘This little light of mine’. He is definitely one to watch out for – given the right packaging and promotion.
Brymo was up next and the crowd started to get a little more excited with a few more people trickling in – he comes on and starts off with ‘Good Morning’ and some life seems to be injected into the crowd as they sing along and move closer to the stage.
Refusing to be disappointed or affected by the disappointing crowd size, Brymo jumps off stage and continues his performance in the middle of the venue floor with the crowd circling him. His shirt comes off and he delivers an energetic performance – ending with ‘Ara’ to the delight of the crowd.
Jesse Jaggz followed with a more laid back performance with hits like ‘Murda’, ‘Wetin Dey’ and ‘Pump it Up’.
‘Superstar’ Ice Prince picks up the tempo and delivers what was probably the most ‘fun’ overall performance of the night.
With his continuous chanting of ‘Follow my Instagram’ (which quickly became the chant for the night) to his serenading a young fan on stage, to an R rated performance involving him, a young lady called Rachael and a chair.
The performance in question was in tempo to Victoria Kimani (whom Ice Prince had introduced as being Kenyan) singing her version of the hit “Oleku” while egging Rachael on (not that she needed any encouragement).
Let’s just say there was not one uninterested person at the venue – all eyes were glued firmly on that stage.
After Ice Prince, the organizers decide to go into some kind of intermission as no act came on stage for the next 40 minutes – the crowd was at least entertained with popular Naija songs which was fine for about 20 minutes but became a little annoying as people were getting antsy.
The live band comes back and Tuface takes to the stage – now the crowd (slightly better than what it was earlier) surge closer. Introducing a new single titled ‘Dance in the Rain’ he continued his performance with hits like ‘True love’, ‘See me so’ ‘African Queen’ and ‘For Instance’ and got the crowd singing and dancing along.
Never one to miss an opportunity to joke about himself; while performing ‘True Love’ he asks the crowd while pretending to search, where his ‘true love’ is. Answering his own question laughingly, he says he’s married now and has ‘repented of those things’.
Ending with a promotion of the United Sounds of Africa concert, which he said will be a continuous thing with acts from all around Africa; he encouraged everyone to support the concept and ended his performance with ‘Implication’ to the dancing approval of a much more energetic and lively crowd.
Now at this point, no one was sure if M.I was going to perform and while some people started leaving (after watching Tuface I guess) J Martins is introduced and comes on stage.
While this is not to disparage J Martins in anyway, I wondered at the peculiar order of performances – surely Tuface’s performance had closed the show?
Giving away his feelings on the crowd size (a few people had left at this point) he would say between songs ‘o boy na wa o’ and urge the D.J to play the next track so he could do what he had to do.
What was left of the crowd danced to his performances which ended with “E no easy” as the management of the plaza declined any attempt at going beyond midnight.
Apologizing to the crowd, J. Martins left the stage as strains of slow tempo music wafted off the speakers – a sign that the show was over!
All in all it was a good night but could have been so much better if there were a whole lot more people there which begs the question – was this not promoted properly? Or was it because it was a work night? And whatever happened to M.I?
Whatever the case, I truly hope the organizers of United Sounds of Africa take the lessons learnt from this, re strategize and come back stronger for future concerts.