Sunday 11th November 2018 will now be a forever-historic day, at least in my own lifetime. Two sold out shows for two Nigerian artists, on the same day, in this London that is in the midst of a EU break/nationalist stance. From a time where African music would get DJ’s fired (head over to the Shopsy Doo Yanga Loves for validation) to now where we have two shows on the same day selling out different parts of London. It’s a wonderful time for African culture and fortunately I was there to witness Simi’s special moment.
From the offset there was a buzz that was palpable, the queue snaked around the Islington shopping centre and the hisses of noises were people lightly warming up their vocals ready to sing back every word. The buzz that usually consists of people warming up their routines for the height of the concert was subdued, but it was replaced by a genuine excitement for an artist who has built up a steady loyal fan base in Nigeria and globally.
Shopsydoo was on hand – of course – to hype the crowd up with warm up acts including Bimple Williams with a live band and DamiBliz with Dem3 behind him. As a surprise to everyone, even Simi herself, WizKid came out and graced the stage with a few words to send the crowd into a frenzy ready for the main event.
Simi took to the stage in a glittery suit and sparkled throughout the first half, with a rendition of Lauryn Hill that really made me take attention. Her band continuous with the rhythms and her playful demeanor oozing from the stage making the audience attach themselves to every note. Falz The Bahd guy came out and immediately demonstrated the connection that brought himself and Simi together to work on their LP “Chemistry”. She then changed into a completely red outfit, new hair and performed alongside Mr Eazi and of course, Adekunle Gold. All the while still gracing the audience with her classic innocent nature.
After leaving I couldn’t help but think about the journey Afro-Beats and African Music has been since I have been alive, from caricature movements to breakout songs like Azonto and Oliver Twist we are in a very new space. Soon the music will assimilate itself with culture like dancehall and reggae has it’s own relationship with the UK, not just Jamaica. Simi represents a different kind of artist, not just Afro-Beats, but unapologetically African. With a sold out show behind her, there is a definite argument that she is creating her own wave that people will undoubtedly follow.