Words by Gerry Otim
The Wizkid: Made in Lagos London Tour is over. Three dates at the 20,000 seated O2 arena in Greenwich. All 3 dates sold out. Full capacity. An electric atmosphere usurped the O2 arena. Manufactured by an African artist. With these 3 dates in London, there was more to admire than the greatness of the music on display throughout. Wizkid carries himself like a superstar on stage, and there’s no doubt that he dressed the part. Stage presence isn’t something you learn overnight, which is something Wizkid has in abundance. That comes down to over 10 years of hard work, self-belief, talent, honing of his craft and an evolution in sound has amounted to Wizkid announcing himself as a genuine global superstar. A superstar beyond the realms of his motherland, Nigeria.
The Made in Lagos album was an overwhelming success upon it’s release on Friday, October 30th last year. With much of the world locked down due to the Coronavirus, the tone and feel of the album was fitting. Smooth, sensual, and sophisticated. Relaxed yet vibrant. Since then, Wizkid’s fanbase have been waiting to experience and live with the album in a live setting. He attempted to wet the appetites of his supporters last November with a live-streamed performance on YouTube, which has amassed two million views.
Whilst Wizkid’s ‘One Dance’ collaboration with Drake opened his reach to a global audience, ‘Essence’, the song of 2020 and 2021, cemented his status as a genuine world-wide star. ‘Made in Lagos’ is an undisputable classic. Across all genres and sounds. And so, the demand for tickets was huge, with the first date selling out in a matter of minutes. So much so, Wizkid and his team had no choice but to add two additional London dates.
As Wizkid’s star has risen, so have the number of friends he was able to call upon for the London edition of the tour. Across the three dates his list of guests included Skepta, Ella Mai, Giggs, Krept & Konan, Buju, Tay Iwar and Chris Brown, who shocked attendees when he delivered his first performance in the UK for over ten years. The Starboy was also able to call upon the self-titled African Giant Burna Boy and the star guest and co-collaborator for ‘Essence’ in Tems.
The live performance of the Made in Lagos album was undoubtably enjoyable, due to the album being an amazing piece of art, crafted and formulated to such a high standard. Despite the technical issues with the sound. Songs such as ‘Ginger’, ‘Blessed’, ‘True Love’, ‘Sweet One’ and ‘Essence’ are songs that are too great not to be enjoyed in such an electric atmosphere.
Especially when Tems graced the stage with such a distinctive and infectious presence. Having said that, it was the Wizkid throwback segment of the show which really made the occasions so special. Hits such as ‘Don’t Dull’, ‘No Lele’, ‘Pakurumo’, ‘Tease Me’ and ‘Ojuelegba’ are songs that we have all lived with and enjoyed memorable moments from yesteryear.
Day 1 and day 3 goers were both treated to performances from Tems, with Breezy on day 1 and Burna appearing on day 3 respectively. Wizkid used day 2 as an opportunity to create a platform for African artists such as Bella Schmurda and Lojay. Yet, fans were unfortunately left disappointed with the guests Wizkid was able to bring out of his magic hat, with Tems not stepping out on day 2.
Across the three dates there are no doubts there were some technical issues which somewhat hampered the experience. At times, Wizkid encountered mic/sound engineering problems, especially with the inconsistency of the autotune. Yet the quality and depth of Wizkid’s catalogue of music superseded most of the issues encountered. The three sold out dates are a testament to Wizkid’s ability to stay relevant whilst evolving as a musician. They are a compliment to the fact, at the age of 31, Wizkid has far more music to make and moments to create. They are a statement which signal how far and wide the genre of Afrobeats has advanced. To be proud of Africa and proud of African music.