Did you think of Asa as just a dada wearing nerd who is probably all boredom and no fun? Did you wonder what an Asa concert would feel like and imagine that she would not be able to create any fun for her audience?
Well, you are mistaken.
As you may very well have realised, Asa Live in Lagos happened last night and the morning after feel, is nothing short of a deep appreciation for a night of pure bliss and artistry.
It was an enchanting evening, of part entertainment and part worship. Recognition and worship of the god and makers of absolutely beautiful music; they who had enough sense to gift humanity with an Asa whose magic transcends the guitar and nudges the trumpet to submission.
Asa is phenomenal. But if you think that her skills on the instruments are all there is to her, then you have not heard her sing; she draws from a well of passion and absolute commitment to healing with her art. Stop and listen to the lyrics of her song, recite them aloud to yourself, above the chaos of Lagos; and hear how much meaning and sanity they leave your mind with. And if you still don’t get it, that is all the more reason you should have been at the Eko Hotel last night, to watch her perform live and experience first-hand, (and perhaps for your first time ever), a slice of heaven and pure ingenuity.
The stage lights came on and off intermittently, sharply silhouetting every feeling, every emotion, capturing every scene like the flashlights of a skilled photographer; shutting out Lagos and the leftovers of its madness and rush that might have accompanied you to the venue. Yesterday, the joy of being in Lagos was palpable, because Asa. Because you could feel that music and experience that art. Because the only permitted way to celebrate Mayday is if you get to feel the heavens sing for you and nod in acknowledgement as you swayed and sang along and clapped and made beautiful memories. It was good reward for all of the hardwork.
Olisa Adibua opened the show at 7:49 PM and the opening acts while not each entirely memorable, were not bad appetisers either, as they very well warmed our feelings to the kind of music and quality of art we expected to see. It took Falana to establish the needed connection to the evening and properly water the grounds for the dose of goodness Asa’s music brings. The crispness and sheer joy of Bez’s voice brought the desired effects on the audience. Rachel Kerr was every inch better than what we experienced of her at the Lauryn Hill Live concert in 2015 and I am happy to see that she is growing and getting better.
It is very interesting that, where other artistes would have left their latest songs for later and gradually built a crescendo to that point, Asa opened with her latest hits, leaving you to imagine what the climax would be, if the show was coming to an end before it even started. But then again, that question is as good as rhetorical. This is Asa and every song of hers has been a hit; resplendent and tasteful, true Asa style. You are unsure and want to follow her, eager with expectation.
There were moments of deep reflection. But can’t that be said for all of Asa’s songs and their keen ability to call out to the deep, prying and healing; wrapping you in that endless sense of endearment as you traverse through the streets of Lagos in songs likeEyo and wonder about the future in Bed of Stones; code switching from English to Yoruba and back, sometimes without even knowing it.
Asa waltzed song to song with trance-like interpretations, energy and even more dramatic exits for each songs. I thought of her in one moment as the famed priestess Chielo in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, fierce yet calm. Asa’s music summons and your body and mind yield. Asa’s music is not for everyone.
The stroke of her chords and accompanying notes are an ode to creativity and a call to profundity. Her songs are not for the listener whose definition of music is noise and more noise, belting like angry thunderstorms. No, Asa aims for the minds and memories of the deliberate and soulful, every song is an ode to eternity. Last night’s performance had an attitude; a distinct character, immediately traceable to the nurturing of good music and marked every inch with pure class and good sense. This much was difficult to miss.
And then, she invited Cobhams Asuquo to join her on stage, in a cover of Halo. Yes, Beyonce’s Halo. It was like a fellowship with tongue-speaking folks but this time, it had the feistiness of the initiated to the tastes of good music.
Asa’s place in the Nigerian music scene is not mistaken.
With the constant reminder from Olisa that there was going to be a live recording of a DVD at the show last night, one wondered if the audience had been called for a concert or to serve as video extras. But you see, at the end of the day, we all could have very gladly being extras if that was all we needed to be live in that audience.
The organizing team for this event deserves commendation for being timely and organized. I am impressed. And this, if I remember correctly, is the first solo concert this year. Hopefully, all other events lined up for this year will just adopt this template.
Thank you Asa for happy memories!