I am not a fan of Shatta Wale—actually, I think he’s a wazzock but he remains a musical enigma, capable of getting a two-generational crowd of Africans and Caribbeans with a spotting of white folks excitedly shout out “Onya e Soormi” .
The first edition of UK’s Ghana Meets Naija which took place at London’s 02 Arena was just not a musical extravaganza, it captured the success and widely acceptance Ghanaian musicians in the UK and more importantly, when you juxtapose what took place with events of just a decade ago when Ghanaian concert patrons were squeezed into small and not so elegant auditoriums such as Stratford Rex in East London—then you can nod your head to the fact that, it’s been a successful journey for both the organizers and concert goers.
The 02 was lit; a crowd of two generations—as young as 18 and as old as 50, beaming with excitement queued and went through different layers of security checks after some of them have spent as much as 400 pounds for a super VIP table just to come and watch artists who are largely based in a different continent and are creating music under some of the world’s arduous conditions.
For me, it was more of UK meets Ghana memories. In June 2013, when Ghana Meets Naija was a crawling brand, I was flown from London to Accra to experience the then emerging brand and after that concert which saw Timaya, E.L, Edem, D-Black, M.anifest , Kwaw Kesse, Raquel, Okyeame Kwame, Obour, Wizkid, Samini and others dish out electrifying performances, I wrote that it was GREAT. That was from a brutal honest reviewer who has attended several concerts of “international acts in London, Paris, Copenhagen, Glasgow, Malmo and other places.”
Then, I called ‘Ghana Meets Naija’ the “highest, the hippest and probably the ‘hoppest’ concert on the Ghanaian event calendar” and yesterday, it jumped straight to the top of UK’s calendar of Ghanaian/Nigerian annual events—as a crowd puller and a must attend.
I was shocked to have met people who traveled all the way from Bradford, about 4 hours’ drive and over 200 miles away from London at the 02, purposely for the much talked about UK’s Ghana Meets Naija 2017.
And without a doubt, everyone, including such long distance travelers got their time and money worth. It was an incredibly thrilling experience—with patrons screaming to songs as some of London’s finest DJs dropped them, both contemporary and old.
The 02 was a perfect choice: the three levels were almost fully packed and before even the main artists who drove ticket sales mounted the stage, perched on the ground floor, concert goers were already sweating, caused by the non-stop dancing, sometimes broken by ear-splitting screams when the DJs dropped classic hit songs like Samini’s Linda.
It’s London and the people love to have fun—so the crowd was super hyper, in fact, it was nothing like what I experienced when I attended ‘Ghana Meets Naija’ in Ghana for the first time, as far as crowd participation was concerned.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s main act-Burna Boy was missing but that did serve as a deficiency to the concert, which some patrons even later described as more of “Stonebwoy Meets Shatta Wale”.
Stonebwoy was the true ignition of the night. He managed to drive the crowd on with several of his songs, albeit some remained unpopular among the adrenaline-charged Londoners.
But it was Shatta Wale who stole the night—with his back to back hit song performances and unprovoked attacks on Stonebwoy, who performed just before him. Shatta Wale sits up there as a paradox; massively loved even though he’s a complete halfwit when it comes to his antics.
Everyone out there sang to Wale’s songs—and at a point, my wife pointed out to me a white woman, possibly in her 40s, who was loudly shouting, “Onya e Soormi” as Shatta Wale led the crowd on during the performance of his hit song, Talk Talk.
The mega concert ended with Shatta Wale, at around 4am and looking at the huge patronage, it’s definitely coming back to London next year. It was exceptionally exhilarating
–nothing like I have ever seen in London as far as African concerts are concerned.
Organised by Empire, the 2017 Ghana Meets Naija UK was sponsored by uniBank, British Airways, RigWorld, MenzGold, among others.