Earlier this month, when I first heard that Afrobeat sensation, Wizkid, would be coming to perform at Millennium Hall in Addis Ababa, let’s just say I was pretty geeked. Joined by an impressive line-up of local artists, including Zeritu, Asge Dendasho, Abraham Gebremedhin, Abdu Kiar and more, this concert was clearly a no-brainer.
His latest album, “Sounds from the Other Side,” resembled a modern day Fela Kuti, fusing West African beats with contemporary melodies. Add to the mix a few features from powerhouse artists such as Drake, Major Lazer, Chris Brown, and Ty Dolla $ign (to name a few), the result was a polished album that demonstrated how the 27 year-old artist’s sound matured from his previous albums.
Though doors opened at 6:00pm, in typical Ethiopian fashion, I arrived around 10:00pm, knowing that the headlining artist would not come out until around 1:00am. Why this continues to be the trend for concerts here boggles my mind. I made it just in time to hear Abraham Gebremedhin, Abinet Agonafer, Aske Dendasho, Ali Birra, and Abdu Kiar sing their 2-3 hit songs, (interesting their names all start with A’s, but I digress…). These artists alone had the crowd cheering, dancing, and singing along, warming up the venue for what was soon to come.
At around 1:15am, Wizkid finally came on to the stage to begin, what would be a very, very short set. Given an Ethiopian flag, the artist traveled from one side of the stage to the other, waving the nation’s colors to a singing, jumping audience during hits such as “Daddy Yo,” and “Come Closer.” At one point, he felt that perhaps, it was a bit too hot for the audience, and proceeded to spray the front of the audience with his water bottle. Not cool, and definitely not that kind of venue.
Wizkid then performed a couple of other songs from his previous albums, in which it seemed many in the audience were not too familiar with (guilty). In normal concerts, where an average setlist ranges from 10-20 songs for a headlining artist, part of me felt a bit let down. When the venue lights turned on around 2:00am, I was confused – clearly this was an intermission. Alas, it was not. While Wizkid’s live vocals were solid, I was disappointed. What about “African Bad Gyal,” “Sweet Love,” or “Sexy?”
“I had fun – Asge and Abdu Kiar definitely killed it,” stated concert goer Senait Fisseha. “I just wish Wizkid’s performance was a bit longer.”
Unlike other parts of the world that get to regularly enjoy concerts from big-name artists such as Beyonce, Major Lazer, The Weeknd, and more, it was great to see a big name in today’s music coming to Ethiopia. It had been previously reported that concert organizers, Jorka Event and Danny Davis, spent an estimated five million ETB for Wizkid alone – clearly anticipating a massive turnout similar to that of fellow Nigerian artist Davido’s concert, held earlier this year at the same venue.
And indeed it was, with some claiming an attendance of around 20,000. With regular tickets priced at 400-600 ETB (VIP upwards of 1,900 ETB), though, many wondered if it was worth it at all for such a short performance.
By Sergut Dejene