Wizkid leaves Ethiopia wanting a bit more

by Zelalem

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 resembles 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, and the result is a polished album that demonstrates how the 27-year-old artist’s sound has matured from his previous albums.

Though the doors opened at 6pm, in typical Ethiopian fashion, I arrived about 10pm, knowing that the headlining artist would not come out until about 1am. 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 two to three hit songs. It’s interesting that their names all start with the letter A, 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 about 1.15am, Wizkid finally came onto the stage to begin what would be a very, very short set. Given an Ethiopian flag, the artist travelled from one side of the stage to the other, waving the nation’s colours 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 row with his water bottle. Not cool and definitely not that kind of venue.

Wizkid then performed a couple of songs from his previous albums, of which many in the audience were not too familiar with (guilty). At normal concerts, where an average set list ranges from 10 to 20 songs for a headlining artist, part of me felt a bit let down. When the venue lights turned on about 2am, 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,” concertgoer Senait Fisseha said. “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 Beyoncé, 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 organisers Jorka Event and Danny Davis spent about $180 000 for Wizkid alone, clearly anticipating a massive turnout similar to that of fellow Nigerian artist Davido’s concert at the same venue earlier this year. And indeed it was, with some claiming an attendance of about 20 000. With regular tickets priced at $15 to $22 and VIP tickets costing upwards of $70, many wondered if it was worth it at all for such a short performance.

This article was first published on Addis Insight

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