This past Sunday 9 October saw Nigerian rapper Olamide takeover the Eventim Apollo, London for what’s said to have been a recording-breaking headline show. Instead, it turned out to be the most memorable
afrobeats afropop concert of the year, for all the wrong reasons.
Excited fans descended on the iconic west London venue to see the “Durosoke” rapper alongside his YBNL generals Lil Kesh, Viktoh and Adekunle Gold. The evening’s events were kicked off by a string of support acts that included Bimbi Philips, Base One, Acenote Band and Que Peller. But the night quickly took a turn for the worse when the audience, who were growing tired of the stop-start proceedings and the long line-up of relatively unknown artists, booed the acts including YBNL singer, Temi Ovwasa.
Outside a number of fans rushed the doors of the already jam-packed Eventim, but they were quickly held back by staff. According to reports by the Nigerian media, the show broke an attendance record for the 5,300 capacity venue, therefore surpassing Burna Boy’s successful Homecoming show, which also took place there the previous week. Interestingly, Heiko Kacimi-Alaoui, Deputy General Manager and Head of Corporate Events at the Eventim Apollo confirmed that the attendance for the YNBL was in fact 2,814 and that 3,298 people turned out for Burna Boy’s October 1st concert.
Viktoh and Lil Kesh performed their hits “Skibi Dat”, “Efejoku”, “Is It Because I Love You” and more to an eager audience who seemed relieved that YBNL had eventually got on the mic. Olamide took to the stage with his anthem “Lagos Boys” and followed it up with “Eleda Mi”, “Turn Up” and “Melo Melo”. It’s clear to see that Olamide definitely likes to entertain, which he proved with his energy and decorative facepaint, but less than fifteen minutes later, he retreated backstage making way for a long set by YBNL singer, Adekunle Gold.
Not long before the 11pm event curfew, Olamide reappeared for the second part of his set, but to his surprise and to that of the fans, the sound was cut and the house lights switched on just as he was about to hit the mic – the concert came to an abrupt end. Unsurprisingly, fans soon vented their frustrations on social media.
I’m so bloody pissed off #YBNLCONCERTUK was a waste of my time. I didn’t pay to see 10 opening acts, only for Olamide to have a 10 min set
— Olubunmi (@BunmiAjisafe) October 9, 2016
Development point: you don’t need that many opening acts when you have a whole record label performing #YBNLCONCERTUK
— Adaeze (@SimplyShedzi) October 10, 2016
Responding to the backlash, the promoter, Junior Adesoun was quick to issue a statement on Instagram saying that the disruption was caused by “stoppages brought about by crowd trouble in and outside” and that Olamide was “closed down by the arena due to continuous attempts by fans to gain entry into the venue, the safety alarm in the venue going off consistently and most importantly the time taken to resolve the developing problems.”
The #YBNL crew lead by OLAMIDE Baddo brings out the whole of the UK breaking the record for the attendance to their hugely anticipated #YBNLCONCERTUK 2:0. With huge anticipation around the sold out concert, the headline acts Lil Kesh, Adekunle Gold and OLAMIDE entertained the 5000 strong fans at the eventim apollo With the doors opening early, Dj”s EniMoney, Unbeatable, Neptizzle and Sean alongside the Acenote band and other acts ensured the fans were in party mood before and during OLAMIDE’s first performance . The only downside was the failure of OLAMIDE to give his close off performance due to stoppages brought about by crowd trouble in and outside of the venue. With the venue at capacity the security had no choice but to close the doors refusing an angry couple hundred fans entry into the concert. After the headline acts had given incredible performances, the show had climaxed with OLAMIDE returning to the stage only to be closed down by the arena due to continuous attempts by fans to gain entry into the venue, the safety alarm in the venue going off consistently and most importantly the time taken to resolve the developing problems. To OLAMIDE’s and the fans disappointment, fans were denied the highly expected performance of his monster hit who you EPP and a few others tracks . OLAMIDE said after the concert that although he was humbled at the record numbers of fans who came out to see him, he was still disappointed at the fact that his fans didn’t get to witness the end of the show which he had prepared for months… I made “all attempts” were made to ensure OLAMIDE gave his final performance including offering to cover any security costs to the venue but we eventually had to understand the health and safety concerns of the arena owners as the crowd outside continuously rushed the door. With that being said, nothing could be taken away from the the night which saw another record breaking night for AFROBEATS in the UK and more importantly a night that crowned OLAMIDE Baddo the MOBO & MTV MAMA Award nominee as officially the new King of #AFROBEATS.
A photo posted by King SMADE (@iamsmade) on
Fans weren’t impressed with the “official statement” and shared their take on the night:
But according to Eventim’s Deputy General Manager, Heiko: “there were issues with fans breaking through our barriers outside and pushing against our front doors. However, this did not affect the show timings.” Instead, the event was due to finish at 11pm as “all our live events do”.
If YBNL had, had long enough to perform, then the show might have been worth the price tag. General admission to the concert cost £25-30, but for the luxury of VVIP, you had to fork out £75-100 for a spot upstairs in King’s Row. And if a comfortable seat was all you wanted, you could grab one for somewhere between £50-60.
The problem with the show wasn’t YBNL or the enthusiastic audience. It’s that the organisation was non-existent and time-keeping was an obvious struggle. It’s almost an impossible task to fit in more than four support acts, DJ sets and headliner performances when you don’t start on time and there are long pauses in proceedings.
The YBNL concert isn’t the first and probably won’t be the last show to suffer from BPT (Black People Time). The rise of afrobeats in the UK has created an even bigger demand to see its stars in concert, but it’s a niche that’s catered to by only a small number of promoters who seem to make the same errors time and time again. But perhaps on this occasion, the scene will learn a thing or two about time management. Or maybe not.
Photo credit: Kymages