Let’s be clear about one thing- Nigerian concerts are mostly boring! And the reason for this isn’t far-fetched- most performers put in little or no work at all towards perfecting their crafts, much less make any meaningful effort to give concert goers the concert effect.
But as much as I would love to blame it all on the singers, I think the overly commercial trend in the Nigerian music industry is much to blame also. By “commercial”, I am of course talking about the unnecessary reliance on studio work to make hit songs; said songs which are merely enhanced with all the digital effects, even as the singers get to make little effect vocally. This inevitably makes the typical Nigerian musician (singer) lackadaisical. They know that all they have to do to get a hit is to get into a studio and be given a “sick beat” to which they sing to, even as their crooked voices are later digitally enhanced to sound nice. The unfortunate thing however is that problems arises when the time comes for live shows and they just can’t rise up to the occasion.
Another causative factor as to why the live performances of most Nigerian singers are mediocre is perhaps due to the fact that we do not have a concert going tradition in the country. In other words, the Nigerian music consumer do not have a full understanding of what they deserve from their idols during live shows. Little wonder a Nigerian fan would willingly pay several thousands of naira to go watch Davido lip-sync to his music while jumping up and down the stage. Such mediocrity has come to define live shows in Nigeria; sadly. And I truly would expect music lovers to know better and expect better, especially now that clips of concerts elsewhere in the world could be easily watched on YouTube.
Indeed, very many Nigerian singers lack artistry when it comes to stage performance! The average Nigerian singer can never perform with a live band. And mind you, this is not because they do not want to (which would be weird nonetheless), but because they simply cannot! Lip-syncing is their go to tactics. And they make this so obvious by the way. Even their choreographies are typically tacky. And of course, all the other theatrics that make for a fun concert are absent. Perhaps this explains why most people would rather not bother attending.
I must however commend a few of the artists who consistently make effort and show immense professionalism on stage. Musicians like Asa whose first ever concert in Lagos (last year) set the pace as to how it should be done, and the Kuti brothers who continue to live up to their late father’s legend. Others include Bez, Praize, Timi Dakolo etc; musicians who may not be in the mainstream of Nigeria’s pop culture, yet continue to offer more to the industry than noise.
I must however admit that there is hope, as more and more mainstream acts are making conscious efforts to improve their skills and become more rounded. Everyone was beyond shocked earlier this year when pop sensation Wizkid performed an incredibly interesting live gig at the Royal Albert Hall in London. His performance was so good, so much so some began comparing him with Fela Kuti. And while he may not be Fela, the good thing is the fact that the likes of him are making effort to redefine what it means to perform live shows. And I simply cannot wait till when this becomes a normalised culture in Nigerian entertainment.
In conclusion, it is high time our singers realised that there is more to being a recording artist other than going into the studio, recording a session and leaving the sound masters with the task of mastering and fine-tuning everything. Instead, they must be able to perform live shows. And live performance entails the ability to dance and do all those acrobatics the likes of Chris Brown and Beyonce are known for, while still singing on pitch and thrilling audiences with incredible vocals. Perhaps by the time music lovers are guaranteed all of these, it will become normal for them to scramble for concerts tickets the same way they scrambled to buy Asa’s ticket sometime ago.