Monday, August 2, 2010

P-Square Bay Area concert review (Museke)

I happened to catch the Okoye brothers, arguably Africa's best musicians, performing for the first time earlier this month in Oakland. The concert was organized by Eugene Entertainment at Historic Sweets Ballroom and the resident dj was my boy, Deejay Slim. I knew P-Square were one of the best performing African music acts and they lived up to the billing. They performed for two hours, gave out free t-shirts, cds and posters and even some of the things they were wearing. The girls were going crazy, and the guys were enjoying themselves. Definitely one of the best African music concerts I've been to.

As they sang in their song, Danger - "If them dey talk our agenda (agenda), Make them go check our calendar (calendar), Na different countries we dey enter (enter), From January to December, Omo, wahala dey". P-Square was on an American tour which had seen them already go to Los Angeles. I had heard the LA show flopped because they were only on stage for less than a hour. I prayed that wouldn't happen in Oakland. The show was advertised as from 7pm to 2am. I knew for a fact P-Square would not be on stage till 11:30pm at the earliest. My friends who didn't get that memo and got there at 7pm had to wait 4 hours for the performance. They did get to see P-Square rehearse, which was nice. :-) They performed with a whole band; a guitarist, a drummer, and a pianist. They had a couple more dancers who contributed to the choreography on stage. Did you see that? P-Square performed with a band! They are a level above all the other young hot African music acts of today. E no easy!

P-Square performed a lot of their hit songs. They started with songs from their pre-Timbuk 2 Records days including Kolo, Last Nite, and Senorita. They transitioned to their major hit album - Get Squared' with songs like Bizzy Body, E don happen, Temptation, etc. I love their performance of 'Story' as they began to thank all the people who had helped them become the success they are today. The fans, the deejays, the promoters, the media people, etc. P-Square knew how to work the crowd. They really put a lot into the show. In appreciating the fans, they handed out some t-shirts, most of which their super fans picked up. If the 'Get Squared' album made them a household name in Africa, the 'Game Over' album took their popularity across the Atlantic to the African Diaspora in the United States, and the African Diaspora in Europe and beyond.

They also performed some of the songs from the 'Game Over' album. They did a dance to 'Roll it', a performance which was definitely begging for those female dancers from its music video. Paul Okoye was quite surprised when one of the lady dancers came on stage and tried to 'break him off'. I guess he wasn't really aware of this Jamaican dance style. Welcome to America, Peter and Paul. They also sang Ifunanya, which had the crowd going crazy. Ifunanya is definitely one of the hit African love songs from the last years. They also sang 'More than a friend'. I was personally going crazy when they started singing 'This is my favorite song'. It's not lyrics to any song, but it was in reference to 'No one like you'. "Hello, how you doing?" It's arguably the best African wedding song ever. The ladies were feeling it too. The Okoye brothers did ask the ladies, "Who wants to marry my brother" earlier in the show. I am not sure how the love-lives of the Okoye brothers are and personally, I'm not sure I care. So the ladies who do, spill :-) "You go vex o". "You go wound o". They also performed their party jam, 'Do me'. "If you do me, I do you, man no go vex".

They rounded up the show with songs from their latest album, Danger. They handed out some free copies of the CD to some fans. They dedicated their new song, Super fans, the ladies who were right at the stage cheering their every move and trying hard to touch the Okoyes at every opportunity. They sang one of my personal favorites, 'I love you' and followed it with 'Possibility' which features 2Face Idibia, another Nigerian musician I had seen in concert in April this year. They then performed their most recent hit, 'E no easy' which celebrates their own personal success. They talked about they had gradually worked hard to the point where they were nominated for Best International Act at the BET Awards. 'E no easy ei'.

I was very impressed with P-Square. They performed for more than two hours and I admired their effort because I was tiring out at some point just singing along and dancing. I appreciated them giving out freebies. Most of the ladies loved the fact they went bare-chested but am even sure some of the guys would appreciate the work the Okoye brothers put in to get there. The Okoyes are a very hard working bunch and are not going to stop short at getting better. They've been performing all over Africa. They have been making their money in Africa. They are probably the first African group that has built its fame in Africa, and not through Western media or channels. That's saying something. Look at the others like Angelique Kidjo, Oliver Mtukudzi and Baaba Maal, they are produced by big international record labels. P-Square is very independent and has an even bigger draw. They have international fans as well. They are a shining light of African excellence.

African music concert promoters have to do better though. I was at two concerts in Oakland earlier this year, for TuFace Idibia and Awilo Longomba. Awilo's show was a sham and his show at Stanford never came off because of communication problems and pure greed. A good name is better than riches. It works in the music industry too. African musicians should look up to P-Square, those men are a benchmark. They've proved it can be done even if 'E no easy'.
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