Indeed, angels live amongst us, pretending to be mortals; sharing the same streets, riding the same cabs, eating our staples, donning our attires, but singing a different tune. Undoubtedly, Bukola Elemide, best known as Asa, is one such angel, riding on the wings of beautiful music in an imperfect world.
Though she titled her sophomore album ‘Beautiful Imperfection,’ her performance at the Asa Encore concert was beautiful and near-perfect.
A review is meant to x-ray the good, the bad, and the ugly, but how do you find flaws in the best of the bests? How do you mark errors when the sound is pure, where the dance is spiritual, and the lyrics are an assemblage of the voices of pain, joy, and mystery — in blissful harmony?
SLOW START, MISSING STARS
Asa is Nigerian after all; a concert billed to start at 6pm did not kick off until well into three hours later. Considering how many people were seated by 8pm, there were initial worries that the turnout may be low.
Although the usual suspects and celebrities were missing, Cohbams Asuquo, her debut album producer, was in attendance.
Olisa Adibua, radio and television personality, emceed for the night.
To get the ball rolling, Adibua invited a number of upcoming vocalists and singers to sate the yearn of the audience ahead of Asa’s performance.
Funmbi, Hallelujah singer, and Omolara, the writer of Timi Dakolo’s Iyawo mi and Asa’s Moving on, did justice as opening acts.
Both singers served as the perfect precursor to the triumphant return of Asa to the place she calls home, Lagos.
SHE CAN’T HELP IT, ASA IS AWESOME
After they were done, Adibua announced a 10-minute break to set the stage for the hawk — Asa — to land. Of course, many went into networking mode while several attendees posed for pictures on the black carpet.
About thirty minutes later, the ’10-minute’ break was over, and the doors were shut.
At that point, the anticipation in the room was so thick a knife could make a clean cut at the Eko Convention Centre.
Once the 30-piece orchestra was seated, the lights dimmed out, and after what seemed like an eternity, the hawk landed.
The lights beamed mildly on the angel of music who was clad in a white attire with beautiful wings.
It was the perfect dress for such an entry, for such a star, on such a night.
As doting fans stared transfixed and listened attentively, her voice reverberated through the hall as she sang awe, nibo lo lo ka, ta fi nwa o ka…
She went on to perform six other songs — So Beautiful, Jailer, Fire on the mountain, Eye Adaba, Subway and Bibanke — from her first album.
TRANSITIONS: RIHANNA, EFE
After nearly one hour of pure class and music, Asa delved into a laid-back monologue with the audience. She talked about Nigeria becoming more visible to the international community via music and arts.
She spoke of a Nigerian music-loving Chinese cab driver she once met in France. Asa said the cabbie asked where she was from, and after replying “Nigeria”, he asked if she knew Davido.
The singer surmised that the world is gradually falling in love with all things Nigeria.
Asa narrated how she got her first audition after ten hours in the cold — in France — while waiting on a Grammy award-winning band.
Although many see her as the embodiment of a complete musician, Asa said she once had backup plans if a career in music failed to work.
One of such plans, she said, was to venture into comedy or be either: a tailor or a trumpeter in a band.
“Not that kind of band that goes after coffins singing glory glory halleluyah, holy holy, Hosanna,” she said while adding that “this music must work”.
At this point, Asa veered off into Rihanna’s ultra-hit song ‘Work’ which she sang — in her own way — without any instrumentation.
Just as the audience was starting to get a hang of her experiment, she transitioned back to Asa, strumming on the strings that produced Eye Adaba, a classic tune from her debut album.
Towards the end of the show, she showed just how much she was in tune with pop culture by borrowing two catchphrases from Efe Ejeba, winner of the Big Brother Naija reality show.
As “Based on logistics” and “Who I be” rolled off her tongue, the fans went wild with excitement.
ASA TURNS ‘ARENA’ TO WORSHIP CENTRE
At the start of the concert, Asa asked if Lagos was ready to dance, sing and worship, but little did the audience know that she was speaking literally.
As she sang Eye Adaba, and asked the audience to sing along with the 30-piece orchestra, the hall became a worship centre of sorts.
Someone in the audience whispered: “Asa don turn arena into worship centre.”
Several fans threw their hands in the air while many appeared to be deeply immersed in the music.
Asa also performed seven songs from her second album and five from her Bed of Stone album.
In all, it was nearly three hours of beautiful music, which left the audience screaming “we want more, we want more…”.
Although there was not be an encore, Asa had done enough to reaffirm her status as the harbinger of flawless music, and a legend in the making.
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