Nseobong Okon-Ekong reports a perfect blend of creative force and energy in a satisfying continuation of love celebration at a promising live concert
The 100 Per Cent Live concert was such an exciting session of stimulating sounds that provided different opportunities to everyone who came out. Hardly could anyone complain that their expectation in music was not met with the diverse selection of songs from the three headline artistes,; Praiz, Simi and Adekunle Gold-on showcase.
Concert organisers took their time and put in a lot of effort to ensure they satisfied the anticipation of the target demographic, which was largely persons in their late teens to early forties. There were a couple of persons outside that age bracket. Nonetheless, they too had a good time; as captured by the happy mien of the majority at the Muri Okunola Park at Victoria Island in Lagos, a venue that is increasingly known for hosting live musical performances. Muri Okunola is home to the hugely popular monthly gig hosted by Afropop musician, Ade Bantu. It is also the choice place for the annual Lagos Jazz Series.
From the very beginning, 100 % Live held the promise for a big musical show. Steve Babaeko’s X3M Music, one of Nigeria’s leading record labels put forward two of its major artistes, Praiz and Simi. The addition of Gold on the bill may be contested by many who think that a foremost concert with Simi as one of the headliners should naturally have the complement of her known creative soul mate, Falz tha Bad Guy. As both have worked together on a couple of projects, it is almost becoming a no-brainer to expect Simi anywhere you find Falz. Although, Falz was not on the bill, there was a probability of him making a surprise appearance on stage. Sadly, that did not happen. The inclusion of Gold, perhaps fuels the notion in some quarters that there is an enduring romance between him and Simi.
Pre-event publicity was massive and the evidence of corporate support from brands at the venue was very encouraging. Perhaps, the only downside to the show was the disappointment to those who expected a mammoth crowd.
True, it was a quality mass of happy people, but they did not turn up in their numbers. You can tell a packed event venue in Lagos when traffic leading in and out of the place is jammed and people have a hard time accessing the venue. This did not happen at 100% Live. Perhaps, the late start of the concert contributed to this set-back.
However, this did not discourage the enthusiasm of the audience. Their expectation of each artiste coming on stage was conspicuous. They could not just hide their love for every one of them. In response, Praiz, Simi and Gold did not disappoint. A truly grateful Praiz, said over and over again, ‘you guys are the best crowd I’ve ever performed for’.
To the inexperienced, it may sound a little bit like teasing but some artistes have had the unfortunate experience of performing before an unmotivated crowd who either booed or gave them a cold response. Praiz was well into his show when this reporter arrived. His band comprising one drummer; a horns section which featured a trombone player, trumpeter and saxophonist; two players of key instruments and three chorus persons gave a good account of itself.
Largely known for his mid-tempo songs he serenaded the crowd with his self-penned songs and when he showed that was not all he was capable of by taking the audience on a ride back to old times, they not only warmed up to him, they lapped it all up. In quick succession, he heightened the pleasure of the crowd by performing the first stanza of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ and the Kool and the Gang’s ‘Get Down on It’. Just before he took a bow, he jumped into the audience and sang the song, he confessed brought deserved popularity to him. The crowd was ready. ‘They sang along with him to every line of ‘Rich and Famous’.
Simi surprised many when she began her session with Lagbaja’s ‘Never Far Away’. Complete with the heavy percussive instrumentation. What was missing was Lagbaja’s dramatic and sonorous intro. But Simi did well with the song and she used it as a good method to capture and retain the attention of the audience. Her mastery of the song proved that she just could have begun with her own song; so while the Lagbaja beat played, she gently switched into her own groove. The transition was smooth. Many still have her song, ‘Smile for Me’ which MTN used generously during the Valentine period. Singing it live resonated with a lot of sentiments.
Raising the tempo of her performance, she sampled Adewale Ayuba’s ‘Bonsue Fuji’. It was simply a technique to help her changeover to the next song. Nobody expected what she did next. Audience members were dancing already when she introduced her song, ‘Owambe’. Her team of dancing girls and the Hype man discharged their roles creditably well to increase the enjoyment of her performance. She closed her performance with the hugely popular ‘Joromi’. Her invitation to the lead guitarist to join her upfront was one of the highpoints of her performance.
Whoever advised Gold to enter the stage with Sam Smith’s ‘Stay With Me’ did not consider his reputation as an ‘Urban Highlife’ artiste, even if he did not stay long on the song. He quickly went to the piece of music that launched him to stardom, ‘Sade’. Going from his first hit to his current hit, ‘Money’ was tricky, but Gold handled it well. This fast pace extended the enjoyment and the sentiment in that song by singing ‘Pick Up’. He played with the mood of the audience a bit by sampling Olamide’s ‘Science Student’. They were in the midstream of enjoyment when he swung into ‘Ariwo Ko’.
The concert came to a fitting climax with all three artistes singing Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’. They were rewarded with the audience’s enthusiastic participation in the song.
Time will tell if this is going to be an annual concert and if can safely find its place on the weekend following Valentine Day, when many are still in a flighty mood and appreciable of the kind of music that dominated 100% Live.