At his annual “WorlaFest” concert, Worlasi did not only sell a memorable show or celebrated a new album. The young man was mobbed with love.
Worlasi could have been on that Alliance Francaise stage all by himself, with no supporting acts – except for his 5-man band- and thrilled the many who filled the pews of the amphitheatre last night. And, each soul would have left the venue brimming with contentment, knowing the 50 Ghana cedis (less than $10) they paid at the gate was not a waste.
Ignore the performance on the night. Forget about the incredible list of guest artistes. Don’t bother to think much about the stagecraft. One thing that stood out for me on the night was the display of love by the audience towards Worlasi: The Man & The god. The intimacy was bewildering. The expression of joy, eye-watering admiration and respect for his art from the people was amazing. These display of affection and support is what all artistes dream about in the nascent stages of their careers. To see that dream happen in reality is nothing but a golden moment for an artiste.
The build-up to Worlasi’s concert was a well coordinated affair. Social media promotions, the release of his third studio album and some incredible features all added to the expectation. His album, “The Man & The god” is a well crafted 10 track album that reflects the thoughts of Worlasi. As he explained at the concert, the album harks at our culture; serving a reminder to why we need to safeguard and promote it. The continuous erosion of our culture by western thoughts, a move he considers part of a grande neo-colonial agenda- would ultimately lead to our collective demise (literally) as a people, nation and continent.
I arrived to meet spoken word artiste, Rhymesonny on stage reciting one of his poems to cheers from the audience. Years of experience as a stage poet brimmed through his performance. He was confident in his delivery, intense where necessary, dropping exhilarating punchlines with accuracy amidst his performance.
Senku Live, the backing band – and primary contributors to Worlasi’s new album- took charge after Sonny, amping the built-up energy to a new stratosphere with their song ‘Money’. Their flawless, excellently coordinated performance on the night was further attestation to why live band music is worth experiencing. And throughout the night, they kept perfecting their art. The performance of Senku Live left you wishing you had paid more at the gate.
The moment many had waited for came when Worlasi rode into the venue on a white horse singing “Woezor”, one of the songs off the album. The soothing eeriness and the almost spiritually elevating tone of the song was the perfect compliment to his entrance. Bare-chested except for a girdle cloth and a gourd pendant hanging from his neck, Worlasi did cast an image of a traditional priest. “The spirit has left me… it’s me and you now”. This was his response after someone had requested him to perform ”Woezer” again. It was also a cue to getting started with his set. The laughter generating response enlivened the crowd. Worlasi would perform “Chant”, “Veku” and “Na So” before retreating backstage.
Singer, Adomaa would emerge from the backstage, looking magnificent in her royal robe to serenade the audience with a two-song performance. If there was anything that hit home on the night, it was her vocals. She did hit those notes with precision. Worlasi, now in suit joined her on stage during her performance, taking charge as she exited the stage of the amphitheatre. He would run through a set of songs from “The Man & The god” album. In between the performance of “Fokoo”, “Mawena” and the hook of “Helebaba”, Worlasi would pause, engage fans in a conversation, and proceed. This was his way of binding with his fans, expressing his appreciation to them for their support and more importantly, breaking down any barrier between an artiste (on stage) and fans (sitting on their seats). The night was one of celebration, not theatre.
Akan, who is having an amazing run by his own standard was brought out by Worlasi to perform “Helebaba” and “Aprodoo”. I have seen Akan live many times. However, each instance felt different. He always had a way of making you feel it’s your first time seeing him on stage. The performance of Trigmatic lacked the usual vigour associated with his set. His call for the audience to join him sing the hook to “Where We Dey Go” was met with a lacklustre response. Perhaps, he has been seen too many times doing the same thing. It’s a cue for him to switch it up next time. (His “Eight Element” album has some great tunes that would connect with fans).
And when the MC on the night (more on her later) introduced M.anifest, there was a sudden surge in adrenaline among the audience. The “godMC” opened his 15 minute set with his Burna Boy assisted single “Tomorrow” which got the crowd going. M.anifest performed “Me Ne Woa” and “Okay” with Worlasi who seemed to have forgotten some of his lyrics. The wishes of many was answered when the two did a rendition of “Cucuracha”, the roof raising anthem off M.anifest’s “The Gamble” EP. It was not really the mobbing of the two artistes by fans that stood out for me. It was the brotherly embrace they shared on stage. One could sense the mutual respect, binding love, flaming admiration and strong brotherhood between M.anifest and Worlasi.
Worlasi would end his set with a string of songs, medleys and social commentary about colonialism (with emphasis on the Chinese ‘invasion’), a ‘justification’ stance on male promiscuity and some insights behind some of the songs on the album. Songs like “Preek”, “Animate”, “Okwasia”, “We All Go Die” elicited loud cheers. He ended the set on a high with the performance of the Juls produced “Booze High”. Rapper Edem, someone Worlasi described as filing him with confidence to make songs in his mother tongue of Ewe came on stage, performed for about 10 minutes an exited; bringing the curtain down on a three-and- half hour show..
“Worlafest” was a well organized, well-patronized event. However, the night was without some glitches. Prominent among them was the choice of MC. Shekina, as the MC was introduced was very unimpressive. In her quest to add her own bit to the excitement, she rather did the opposite. Her winding monologue, whenever she came on stage to introduce or make an announcement induced murmurs among a section of the audience. In short, she was dousing the flaming energy rather than adding to it. The other glitches, mostly technical, were minor- mics cutting off, the stage design being too ordinary. This is coming from someone who has seen numerous musical events at Alliance Francaise.
Worlasi proved once again why he is a formidable musician/performer. Indeed, he is one of the most incredible artistes of his age. His command of the stage and expertly rehearsed stagecraft complemented his overall demeanor on the night. The response from the audience offered another chamber of vigour to his set. The show not threw Worlasi in the spotlight, it also shone light on Senku Live whose set has converted me into a fan. And, if I was an A&R for a distribution label, Worlasi would have been my first signing not because of the music or his performance. But more on the love and affection the fans expressed on the night.