by Wilfred Okiche
It was always going to be risky business.
Organizing a show at the end of the year, smack in the midst of the holiday season, a time when everyone is spoilt for choice, then fixing ticket prices way above the average going rates. Say what you want but N15,000 is pretty steep in any clime. A lot of artistes irrespective of status or strata would think twice, some wouldn’t dare. And they would be totally justified.
But Bez is unlike any other artiste to emerge on the pop scene in recent times. More Asa than D’banj, his music seemingly panders to the west but enjoys a cult-like following in his home country. The American Boston Globe website named his debut album ‘Super sun’ one of the 10 best world music albums of 2011 but at last year’s Headies, Nigeria’s biggest music awards, he wasn’t nominated for album of the year and lost all categories he was listed in. In an interview preceding the concert, the soul singer defended the ticket pricing, ‘’It’s the first of its kind concert. It has a bit of a premium quality attached to it. Eventually when we do other shows, we would have lower fees but since this is the first we are doing, we want to make it count.’’
And make it count they did.
Held at a cordoned off section of the much utilized Expo Centre of the Eko Hotel and Suites, the arrangement and ambience of the setting suggested a quiet intimacy that instantly made anyone who attended the Koko Concert the previous night seem juvenile.
A night of superior talent, the supporting cast was chock-full of reliable performers willing to adjust their sometimes high-wire act to suit the night’s mood and format. There was Waje doing a ragga version of her hit, ‘I wish’, Omawumi promising not to over shadow Bez as she delivered a subdued ‘Bottom belle’ – although she couldn’t hold back from touching herself just a tiny bit. West African Idol, Timi Dakolo was in no mood to over sing and kept it simple with the familiar ‘Let it shine’ refrain as well as the not-too-familiar single he debuted, and Tiwa Savage was delightful in a quaint rendition of ‘Jesus loves me’. She’s no Whitney Houston but then again, no one is these days.
The only person seemingly out of place was upcoming singer, Seyi Shay, although to be honest, she did put in the effort. In a move that showed she is ready to play in the big leagues, she performed with full complement of the live band but her set list and high energy hairography routine skewed towards the younger and perhaps hipper generation. Which is not to suggest this was a show for the oldies.
Put together by Flytime Entertainment in collaboration with Cobhams Asuquo’s CAMP, talent really does make all the difference and in this case, Bez’s appearance really did make all the difference.
2012 had it’s fair share of music concerts – everyone from 2Face to Sound Sultan- but to watch this talented young man go full throttle with his live band, him playing the guitar, another on bass, someone else on drums, another on violin and the peerless Cobhams Asuquo on the piano surely has to be the peak of the concert going year and an experience of a lifetime.
His voice which sounds thin and wispy on his records is even stronger live and was a joy to listen to as he belted out song after song off his album. Most of the songs are given the full band treatment but he doubles down to perform ‘More you’ (with the help of a female guest) the way it’s meant to be sung- stripped down and raw.
His stage craft is confident, manifest in the choreographed dance moves and smooth rapport with the adoring audience which although didn’t quite fill the hall to capacity, was an impressive turn out none the less. And they gave their love back, singing along to favourites like ‘Zuciya daya’ and ‘Technically’ such that by the final arc, everyone was dancing to crowd pleasers ‘Supersun’ and ‘That stupid song’ (alongside Praiz) at the end of which he smashed a guitar, rockstar style on stage. It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen guys like Slash do it on television, nothing quite beats the thrill of watching it happen right before your eyes.
Bez Idakula has expressed his dissatisfaction with the limiting reach of the word superstar and all it connotes, a term so unambitious and grossly deficient, as the sun, unrelenting in it’s gaze, burns even brighter. While the obliging audience who parted with the steep admission fare and his artiste friends with their incredible showmanship were superstars in every sense of the word, the night belonged to Bez who defied the odds to put up the show of his career and that which others will be measured.
Rising high and shinning bright, for one night only, Bez became the Supersun.
Wilfred Okiche tweets from @drwill20
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.