By Emmanuel Benson/Lagos
At the 2015 Miss Nigeria pageant held on Saturday night at the Oriental Hotel Lagos, Harrysong performed his hit single “reggae blue” alongside KCee.
Unfortunately, the performance was boring to me because all they could entertain the audience with was jogging around the stage, walking a lady down the runway while singing off key the entire time.
Tiwa Savage performing.
There was not that electrifying artistry one could find in a Chris Brown performance for instance; and this got me thinking long and hard as to why the live performances of most Nigerian musical acts are simply basic, uninteresting and mediocre!
Now there is no doubt the Nigerian music industry has grown and become one of the most influential especially in Africa as Nigerian artistes constantly release quality audio-visual productions for our entertainment.
Songs by singers such as MI Abaga, Waje, Tiwa Savage and Runtown (to mention a few) are top-notch in terms of quality of production and musicality. In the same vein, they always ensure that their video productions are in par with global standards. But then when it comes to stage performances, their outputs are usually poor.
And interestingly, many music lovers in Nigeria seem unperturbed by this phenomenon. Yet I just cannot imagine why anybody should buy a ticket to watch a favourite singer perform a show and then get treated to lip-syncing, non-creative and virtually boring show.
In 2015 when music artistes around the world spend days rehearsing theatrical, visually-captivating dramatics for their shows/concerts, Nigerian singers fail to at least give their audiences live bands. And yet audiences come out from such shows grinning from ear to ear as though they have been to paradise. But then who is to blame for this lack of performance standard; the singers or the music lovers?
To answer the above question, permit a little bit of digression. Major international artistes have been criticised severally for their stage performances especially when it is large scale like the Super Bowl half time and the Grammies. Last year, Katie Perry was the object of ridicule by some who thought her elaborate Super Bowl performance cannot be compared to Beyonce’s giving the year before.
And speaking of Beyonce, most fans were disappointed over her most recent one hour or so performance at Global Citizens’ concert. This is despite all the dancing, drama and actual singing she put out.
But this is what the case should be: music artistes who are mandated by their fans to always bring out their best! For that live shows are called stage performances! Music lovers abroad practically determine a lot of things singers do on stage. It is in anticipation of what artistes’ audiences would like to see at shows that the said artistes go out of their way to recruit stage directors and creative artists who will plan out the moves, the choreography and the actual crazy fun that makes for a good show.
One of Beyonce’s many Grammy performances once saw the artist marching up an isle towards the expansive stage with an entire army all of whom were dressed in full military uniforms. She would later dance, act, push a crew member in the audience and run the breath of the auditorium while belting out lyrics in her amazing, crystal-clear manner.
Of a truth, Stage performance is beyond standing with a microphone and jumping up and down a stage. Jumping around the stage and demonstrating swags is certainly part of it, but definitely not all there is to it.
So my point is that both the artistes and the audiences are to blame for the poor stage performances we have in Nigeria. And I think the main reason behind that is that most of us have yet to realise the immense importance of stage performances.
How then do you explain artistes’ lack of preparedness, the poor sound quality, the typical absence of live bands hence the boring shows we have in Nigeria? Most of these performances are so random and unplanned so much so Iyanya was performing at his all white birthday concert and his friends were running walking about the stage as though it was a joke!
All this was happening while the fans merely sat back and watched, seemingly indifferent. Why on earth would I pay money to watch such a show? In actual fact I cannot seem to understand the phenomenon. In 2015 when music lovers want refreshing entertainment, others are just nonchalant over what they get in return for their money; surprising! We the audience should get to demand performance from our musical arts.That is the only way to ensure growth.
Once again let me reiterate the crux of this piece in order to avoid misunderstanding. Nigerian musicians are generally doing great jobs in their studios. However, there is need for them to replicate this same excellence on stage as that is the only way they will get to that point in their careers when they rent out stadia as the likes of Sam Smith and Taylor Swift do.
And perhaps it belies the Nigeria music lovers to demand such excellence. Now I don’t know the best way they could actualise that, yet social media rants have proven very useful in many situations.
And speaking of social media rants and how it shapes artistes’ leaning towards the fans’ wants, Lady Gaga’s fans (for instance) recently went on rampage on her Instagram account over the many jazz shows she has been performing of late. This happened following a picture the singer posted on the social media platform, with many followers complaining that she was becoming too jazzy for comfort. One particular fan’s comment caught my interest and it read thus:
“I was on stage with her in Zurich but please please Gaga stop this jazz shit; your fame isn’t the same anymore… We want fucking Judas!! We want Aphrodite!! And fucking shit… please give us back Donatella… I’m a little monster and I fucking tattooed your name. So go back and fucking be my mother!”
Now that is how to speak out as a fan. And Nigerian music lovers need to speak out this way while demanding excellent stage performances from our artists as it is imperative towards ensuring growth in the industry.
The author’s profile:
Emmanuel Benson, A SIMONATEBA.COM entertainment writer and critic, holds a master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Ibadan, and aspires to become a screenwriter and novelist. Basically Emmanuel loves to tell stories, and has been writing since he was a small boy. His hobbies include reading, music and sports.