Asa’s “V”-ery thrilling concert at The Royal Albert Hall – Toni Kan

...Asa owned the stage

Talent and longevity can be strange bedfellows especially when it comes to music where beats and musical tastes can sometimes last no longer than a short summer.

But Asa, who was born in Paris, raised in Lagos, and now globally acclaimed has been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt.

The massive crowd at Asa's concert
The massive crowd at Asa’s concert

Five albums in, she ticks both boxes effortlessly as a talented musical artiste who has managed to ride the wave for almost twenty years beginning with her self-titled first album which blessed the world with the instant classics “Jailer” and “Fire on the Mountain”.

On Wednesday, May 24, 2023, Asa backed by a 5 man band with friend and longtime collaborator, Janet Nwose, providing backup vocals, held an audience of almost 4,000 spell-bound for over two hours at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Asa on stage at the Royal Albert Hall
Asa on stage at the Royal Albert Hall

Asa’s “V” concert had upcoming Somadina and Sabrina Francis as opening acts but it was clear the crowd had gathered to listen to no one but Bukola Elemide aka Asa.

Asa got on the stage at 9.09 pm heralded by flashing lights and clashing cymbals. The energy had been turned up notches from the moment Janet came on stage and was mistaken for Asa.

Dressed in a shimmering white dress shirt over sequined knee-length boots, Asa opened with “Awe” from her first album before segueing seamlessly to “Satan Be Gone” from her Bed of Stone album.

And from those opening songs, she held the audience in thrall, moving effortlessly between albums and genres, now thumping rock and roll, next mellifluous RnB and then rousing highlife.

Eyo had the crowd singing along as did “Fire on The Mountain and the more recent “Mayana” from the V album.

Asa enlisted Janet to fill in for The Cavemen on the highlife flavoured “Good Times. It was a perfect duet with the two old friends serenading each other.

Janet was first to go -“They say show me your friend and I will tell who you are/I no fit deny, i bu ezi enyi/The good times we shared/I will never ever forget”

Then Asa countered with  -“They say blood is thicker than water/Some friends are loyal than brothers/(true, true)/It is you I run to when life gets hard/I know you will never talk behind my back…I may not have money but with you I am rich.”

“Show me off” had many in the audience in their feelings while Asa took it to church with “Bibanke.”

Asa owned the stage for the two hours she was on it, prancing, dancing, preening and jerking as the spirit led. It was the performance of a bonafide star who has come into her own and a long way from those nights at Jazzville in Iwaya, Yaba, Lagos.

As the performance wound down, Asa treated the audience to a brand new song “Odo” which she introduced with a caveat  but wobbly chords or not, Asa’s V concert proved made one thing clear; she was here at the dawn of the afrobeats revolution and it is pretty clear she will be here when it ends.

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