Some of the acts at the Midnight show in Abuja, Nigeria
On the 27th of September, I had the opportunity of attending one of the many shows that have gone down. It’s a little thing organised by Zainab Sule, called “Midnight”. No not the time of day. And no, It didn’t last till midnight. It didn’t start by Midnight, either. “So why Midnight?” we hear you say. Well…
Okay, Moving on.
The show took place in one of the halls at Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. I arrived about an hour before the scheduled start time, 6 p.m, and the entire place was already set up. By that, I mean the equipment was all set up: lights, speakers… you know, the works. While I was there I caught a snippet of a sound check or two. And what I heard had me kinda hyped. Eventually 6 o’clock rolled in on us and the show hadn’t fully picked up. Guests and artists were still arriving and some pictures were being taken just outside the hall. Things settled down around 6:30 and NathMac was on stage with his acoustic guitar, serenading the audience. After that, the MC (Kimberly from radio station, Nigerian Info) took the stage to introduce and properly start the show. She dropped the “So why Midnight?” line….and I’ve just set myself up to remember the explanation that was eventually given at the show… Darn it!!
The show was now officially under-way and it started off with a spoken word set by Omo-Awe and Vivian. It was about sexual harassment. Quite nice. I’ll be honest, I was a bit sceptical about there being spoken word sets since it’s supposed to be a rock show, but this laid my scepticism to rest. Especially Vivian who delivered her lines with a lot of passion and conviction.
This was followed by a performance by Lexiash with Nathmac on back up vocals and guitar. Lexiash sounded very nervous but he did say it was his first performance. Well, he did OK, performing two songs, one an original and the other a cover. He had this R’n’B vibe to his voice which was nice in its own way. NathMac played his role as backup vocalist and guitarist very well.
After this, came The Isomers, the only set that consisted of a full band, two guys on percussions, one on the acoustic guitar, one on electric and a lady on the violin. Also, 3 of them were on vocal duty. Cool stuff. One of my favourite sets. They performed 3 original songs. All had this folk ambiance to them. The last song was written specifically for the event and was adequately called Midnight. Unfortunately, there were a lot of technical issues with the amp the electric guitar was plugged to, so the full effect of the song wasn’t felt. Very unfortunate. I heard the real thing during sound check. The actual performance, though, was not that great. Which was surprising since the point of sound check is to iron out all these issues beforehand. The audience was a bit displeased.
UP NEXT! Zainab Sule! And Ms MC put her on the spot about the MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION!!! “So why Midnight?”
Okay lemme back up. Once she took the stage and was put on the spot, she welcomed the audience and then proceeded to explain what midnight was all about. The knowledge that though the tunnel was a dark place there will always be a light at the end. So it was like “It may be midnight now but dawn is coming and all will be well.” Simple, yeah. Okay. After this explanation she picked up her guitar and had an energetic performance that got the audience hyped. The song “I’ll Make You Dance” was the one that got people cheering and singing along. Then she performed “So Many”. This ended her set. The first one anyway…What…? It’s her show, sorta. She can get seconds if she wants.
MakD took the stage next. MakD is a guitar strumming, designer with a penchant for dropping rhymes. Yup, he spat some lyrics during his performance of “Na Today.” Lovely performance. Had everyone singing along as well. You could tell he knew how to work a crowd. This performance was followed by a medley of songs sang by primary school children…Well, when we were in primary school here in Nigeria, we sang these songs. It was a nice throwback.
Nathmac takes the stage again and this time his firing on all cylinders plus a few extra. He killed it with his really wide vocal range and skill on the guitar. “When The lights Go Out” was especially moving.
His performance was followed by a presentation by one of the sponsors of midnight, ACTION HEALTH. It was about helping impoverished villages and giving people the chance to pledge to give a sum of money every month to help. Good stuff. Y’all should check their website HERE for more info. It’s for the good of the people, yo!
After the presentation, AJ-Kafang (formerly of Threadstone) took the stage and claimed it in the name of rock n roll!
No really, he was DOPE! Played one original and a cover. And the cover..was “HAPPY.” His stage presence was on point. The crowd was cheering and all. In addition, a lot of people seemed to know the original song, too. Good stuff.
Jessica Bongos took the stage after that with a back up guitarist who has coolest looking guitar there. Just saying, yo. That axe was wicked! Anyway, She performed two songs in her set. One was in the Idoma dialect. Her songs kinda had this neo-soul feel to them.
Abdulkass was up next. Now he’s a contemporary style, multi instrumentalist guy. So rock isn’t his thing. But he has tried to write rock songs before and performed one of such tries for us. It was actually quite nice. He then followed that up with one of his contemporary style songs. VERY energetic stuff. Audience was loving it. Gotta say, rock or not, he’s got skills.
Notice how a lot of the sets were made up of lots of energetic songs. Well, this came in as an interlude to all that…Well all the singing. It was spoken word time. and Tope Sadiq a.k.a. Torpedo took the stage with two poems. Let there be light was the first one. Very powerful stuff. This was followed by, my personal favourite Poem of the night. “THERE’S A ME INSIDE OF ME THAT’S TRYIN’ TO KILL ME!”. DUDE KILLED IT!!! Loved this poem. Loved his stage presence. Awesome stuff.
Not so soon after, Bem Sar came to the stage with no shoes on (ready to kick butt with his set…and not his feet. Because that would be assault. People go to jail for assault…what? It’s true). And he did. Oh he did. Very lively performance. I have to say, I never thought solo Acoustic guitar sets could be this energetic till I attended this show. AJ, NATHMAC, now Bem Sar. Man. Cool stuff. Y’all should have seen it, man.
And then the SAMURAAAAAAIII known as XT was next. More acoustic stuff that made my brains melt, in a good way. Started with “Closed Doors.” Good song. However, the kicker for me was the next song “AIYE.” Well for one, I know the song. And two, it was so cool to sing along to. Well at least the chorus was. The verses were so fast. Almost BoneThugs’n’Harmoney-Fast. So, no. No singing along to the verses. XTsamurai had his lyrics projected for the crowd to sing along to.
So when that was done, Dike Chukwumerije took the stage with some really good spoken word.
This was followed by Jeremiah who performed another acoustic set, but with a backup. On the keyboard. Not QWERTY or Swipe, though. The musical instrument. Yeah, just clarifying.
Next was a heart-felt spoken word set by BASH. Who had two poems. One about the value of a mother and the other about,well, lets just say it was a poem about him warning whoever toasts his daughter when she’s all grown up to take care of her or he’ll drop kick him into infinity and beyond. Okay, he didn’t put it like that. But the dude looked ripped! You don’t wanna mess with a girl whose father has the stature of an athlete… Trust me, it’s suicide. Not that I have any personal experience in the matter. I’m just sayin’.
This was followed by Zainab Sules second and last performance of the night. Like, the FINAL PERMANENCE OF THE NIGHT. After which she said thanks for coming and we all took a bunch of pictures. NTA, another sponsor of Midnight, covered the event and interviewed some of the peeps that performed.
All in all it was a good show….Very good show. For real. It was well organized. The sound in the hall was great. you could hear everything clearly…Props to Zainab for paying attention to detail. The sound proofing in the hall was great. I mean, there was a church programme going down in the hall right next to the one Midnight went down in and if you didn’t go out of the hall, you wouldn’t notice. It was cool. Although, it would have helped if there was a dedicated Sound Engineer on ground to help bands with technical trouble out. Having to sort out amp connection problems in the middle of a set kills the flow of energy. Really messed up Isomars “Midnight” song. However, all things considered, it was cool. Totally worth the three grand ticket cost. I look forward to what she pulls off next year.