Wizkid, review: a joyful party ruined by an ill-advised guest

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Still, Balogun was a cool, confident performer who looked at ease on the huge stage and bounced off special guests Skepta and Ella Mai like they were the best of friends. 

With songs about love, brotherhood and the importance of community, Balogun is a star driven by compassion. Onstage, he made sure fans in the front row were cared for by security and made a plea for the whole arena to look after their brothers and sisters. A moments silence for Virgil Abloh – the American fashion designer and entrepreneur who died the same day as the gig – was followed up by a raw, heartfelt rendition of Smile. Moments later, a gospel choir took to the stage and added magic to the bass-driven Blessed. He was never afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve. 

 For the most part though, Wizkid’s Made In Lagos tour is an excuse to party. His music draws influence from African dancehall and reggae but, backed by a six-piece band and three backing vocalists, he also found space for EDM, Eighties pop and free-flowing jazz. It provided the soundtrack for an almighty rave, with the crowd abandoning their seats and taking to the stairs. A mid-set medley of older tracks was both lavish and hectic with Wizkid’s DJ Tunez declaring he had “too many hits”. Not that I heard anyone complaining.

From the moment Wizkid took to the stage, he created a feel-good atmosphere for this euphoric, communal get-together. However, that all unravelled when Chris Brown joined him for his first live appearance in the capital for over a decade. The singer was banned from the UK following his arrest for assaulting Rihanna in 2009, and his surprise spot during Wizkid’s set felt uncomfortable.

There was no chemistry between the pair (Wizkid spent most of the performance side of stage, drinking water) and Brown’s aggressive, braggadocious run through of his own Go Crazy twisted the joyful mood into something ugly. Once he’d left the stage, the bad vibes lingered, and not even the usually triumphant closing trio of tracks could revive Wizkid’s party. 

The evening was proof that Afrobeats is a global phenomenon, and Wizkid is already a star. It didn’t need a guest spot from Brown to demand attention – the music spoke for itself. His appearance was a singular moment of self-doubt in an otherwise flawless and fantastic Wizkid show. Next summer, he plays a huge outdoor show in London, and, if Sunday night was anything to go by, it’s going to be an absolute triumph – as long as he’s more careful with the guestlist.

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