by Rachel Ogbu
One Africa Music Fest 2017 was one of the biggest and most exciting African concerts to hit the UK.
Organised by Upfront & Personal Global Management Consultants, the festival which held at the SSE Arena in Wembley London was streamed live on Jay Z’s Tidal music app.
The iconic SSE Arena building has played host to numerous events including the 1948 and 2012 Olympics, the venue boasts a £35 million refurbishment and its famous stage has been graced by the likes of Madonna, Stevie Wonder, Prince, even The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Now this year’s line-up was made up of 21 African music stars including Tiwa Savage, Flavour, Sakordie, Tekno, Alikiba, Cassper Nyovest, Olamide, PSquare, Jidenna, Falz, Banky W, Phyno, Victoria Kimani, Flavour, MI, 9ice, Skales, Emma Nyra, Eugy, Atumpan, Sonoman and DJ sets by Crowd Kontroller (CK), Obi, Spinall, Lambo and Abrantee – all on the same bill to grace the iconic stage at the venue filled with about 10,000 expectant fans.
This year’s host just like last year was RnB singer, Banky W and there were special appearances on stage from comedian AY and actor, Ramsey Noah, we also spotted comedian, Basketmouth hanging out backstage. HONESTLY, the event was packed with famous faces, so famous that they couldn’t fit them all on stage. Time ran out before we could see our beloved Jidenna perform.
That doesn’t stop the rating, this year, One Africa Music Fest fully embraced what it had wanted to be for years: an all-out afro music festival. They especially took pride in the fact that the live performances were mostly performed -LIVE and not via cd tracks or lip-synching. Banky W continues to develop into an engaging and charming frontman, especially with how he conducted the loyal crowd effortlessly (except for the part where he prompts the audience to beg authority for more time). Falz on stage seemed unfazed at being rushed through his act and proved that he was ready to take the next solo step into arena stardom.
Favourites of the night were Sakordie who opened his segment with frightening intensity, even bravely performing a new song which got wild acceptance from the audience. The set was also a fine opportunity for Emma Nyra to showcase her influence on contemporary pop, as her top hits came through for her and proved crowd favourites. 9ice relied heavily on the material from 2008 album ‘Gongo Aso’ and the nostalgia was effective as the crowd were treated to all of his biggest hits. The real masterclass in stage performance arrived later in the night – Awilo, Tiwa, Olamide, Phyno, Davido, PSquare all carried on growing the excitement as they demonstrated their flair for blending thundering afro beats with punchy pop chorus.
Victoria Kimani was the belle of the night! The Kenyan-Lagos based singer packed her set with hits aplenty and unquestionable girl power. She has already improved so much in her short but successful career since signing with Chocolate City. On this showing, it’s safe to assume that if she plays her cards right, she could turn into a festival headliner.
(Photo credit: Michael Tube Creations)