Life is Eazi: Live bands are not for everybody and Mr Eazi showed us why
Two hours into the concert, Eazi had a packed venue, hundreds still at the gate and a crowd that was hyped for a great show; then Ehiz introduced an unnecessary live band.
The first thing anyone would have noticed last night was the horde of young people that filled the Landmark Event Centre. A good number of them were IJGBs, short for I Just Got Back, the hybrids of Nigerian blood and American/UK culture that come home every December to recharge their ‘I’m a Nigerian’ batteries before they resume for the school year.
In a lot of ways, the success of Eazi’s first Lagos concert relied on how many of them could turn up – they had the dollars & pounds to pay for the tickets, but more importantly, as they would prove later, they are the most energetic of his fanbase.
Eazi’s growth in the last year has been completely organic, most people who heard his music this year got it from friends or by stumbling on it on blogs – which is why it is more impressive that he is as big as he is outside of Ghana and Nigeria.
The fans who came out last night and filled the room to capacity came out of a genuine love for a man whose music, with a plan and minimal support, has shifted attention in his direction over the course of one year. Everybody loves an underdog and Eazi embodies one.
The sad thing is that last night, when it was time to come out and claim superstar status, Eazi remained an underdog.
The concert ws kicked off with a variety of performances from his ‘friends’; but it was Falz with 5 songs, 10 or so dancers and an overzealous hype-man, who had to come through to give the concert the energy it needed.
Two hours into his show, Eazi had a packed venue, with hundreds still at the gate; awaiting him was a crowd that was hyped for what seemed set for a great show, and then Ehiz introduced a live band, Afro-harmony.
The success of a live show depends on many factors; apart from sound, lighting and the more technical aspects, the musician needs to control his crowd and infect them with his presence.
In the time and space of the concert, the only person that matters is the man on stage, and he must understand this. He alone is responsible for the quality of whatever he offers his fans.
For most artistes that see quality as the goal, a live band is the standard. Nothing screams quality like a group of people on stage recreating your favourite songs right before your eyes.
The reality though is that the best live performances are the result of weeks of hard work and bonding; they demand mastery, something that most artistes take years to find. Live bands are not for everybody and last night, Mr Eazi showed us why.
After a delay that was just one of many, Eazi came on stage, assisted by the Afro-harmony band, and the crowd screamed their souls out. It was his moment in the spotlight, one that he thoroughly deserved. But from the moment he started his first song, it was obvious something was wrong.
Eazi is a newbie by any standards, and it would have been irresponsible to expect perfection, but what he gave was far from it.
The disconnect with the band was so obvious that at certain points, all he sang was the hooks of his songs. You wouldn’t have noticed at the early stages, though; Eazi’s songs are as infectious as his fans are energetic, so even when he was singing, there was an audience whose voice was louder than his.
But by the time he started what should have been a special performance of his newest single, ‘Legover’, the energy he had created was slowly floating out the door and people were leaving with it.
It didn’t help that Eazi spent too much time in conversation with the audience. It turns out he was waiting for some of his co-performers to show up; Eugy, held up by Arik Air, could not come through, but Illbliss did, along with Reminisce, Mayorkun and Lil’ Kesh.
Maybe it was Efya’s familiar face or Phyno’s electric performance of ‘Fada Fada’ but the latter part of Eazi’s set seemed more confident. When he performed ‘Dance for Me’ at the end of the show, he had his crowd in the palm of his hands. He jumped and they jumped with him, but it seemed too little, too late.
Will Mr Eazi continue his progress into super-star status next year? It looks like it. He makes great music and understands the value of a plan. There’s already one for the next year, with an EP scheduled for February.
There’s also reason to think he’ll become a better performer; he has a fanbase that loves him like a newborn and if the latter part of his concert was anything to go by, he will learn very fast.
What Life is Eazi gave us last night was not a bad concert, but a lesson in why even when some things seem appealing, it is better to wait till you’re ready. Would Eazi have performed better with a DJ set? Absolutely. But we can not blame him for a desire to give his fans the full experience, even if it was off by a mile – what we can ask for is improvement.
So if Life is still Eazi in 2017, we can be sure we’re coming out to vibe with a better performer.