“I just finished doing 21 shows in the US, so I had to come home”.
Despite every artist under the sun claiming the city they perform in is ‘home’ or has the best and most beautiful crowd, it’s difficult to refute the special relationship Wizkid has with London. From The Ends Festival to Starboy Fest and Afrorepublik at the O2, there is an undeniable love and admiration his fans have for him within the city and the somewhat intimate gig at Forum Kentish Town felt like both acknowledgement and reciprocation on Starboy’s part.
It was a ‘no nonsense’ set. Accompanied by a stall, mic stand and a whole lot of stage presence, Wizkid sent a message from the first beat in Fever through the stripped-back design: it was all about the music for the night. The experience was a gentle but firm reminder to the audience that he only makes classics. Whilst some didn’t need a nudge, it’s important to look at how long he has been in the game, and as a result - how his music spans across generations. Newer and younger fans are aware of his current status but might not know of his earlier hits. It didn’t matter whether he played Don’t Dull from 2010 or Joro from 2019, it had the same effect in making everyone realise that not only is his talent timeless, but that Wizkid truly is one of the greatest.
“I’m going to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to perform the whole of Made In Lagos, from the first track to the last”.
The surprise was followed by roar from the audience, and rightly so. Made in Lagos, the sonic embodiment of ‘grown and sexy,’ easily surpassed 100 million streams across five platforms nine days after release, something that is uncommon for Afropop artists. Performing every track on an album is also a testament to the album itself. Artists usually play their popular songs, singles and a couple of deep cuts at concerts, but rarely ever go through their albums track by track. Another artist that has done this is J. Cole with this Forest Hill Drive Tour and the album - 2014 Forest Hill Drive. The comparison itself proves that it's a feat that can only be accomplished with standout projects by standout performers. Made In Lagos doesn’t have the odd throwaway that music fans have come to expect with releases, or songs that don’t stand the test of time. Wizkid’s declaration may have seemed like it was a spur of the moment decision but it was, in fact, an unwavering confidence in the album he curated.
If hearing Made In Lagos live could be summarised with one word, it would be ‘ingeminating’. Hearing it through headphones or speakers already created a musical journey but the atmosphere of pure enjoyment from fans added another layer to the listening experience. The reception that the songs evoked made it seem as if people were reliving the first time they listened to MIL. It also brought forward how much versatility the album has and its potential, even a year after its release. The production value is second to none, with instrumentalists (the saxophone in particular) playing a prominent role on songs like Reckless and Blessed - it sparks the question of whether a release of the live version of the album could be in the works? In the meantime, it gives hopefuls a glimpse into what could be for his upcoming London shows with a full live band further elevating the performance.
It’s either good or bad news for fans going to see his sold out London performances, based on the ‘era’ of Wizkid you were hoping to find at the O2. Going through the entire tracklist of MIL could be a sign that it may not be a focus moving forward. That isn’t to say that Essence warriors won’t get their fix but throwbacks, previous singles and collabs might be at the forefront of his setlist. Regardless of which Wizkid shows up, if his Kentish Town show was any indication - it will be a memorable string of gigs.