On Friday the 3rd of June, Harare’s Belgravia Sports Club was host to the African Giant. The Nigerian superstar came with his full band in tow and the expectation of a 90 minute show. A concert some would say was 2 years delayed but maybe now coming at just the right time (With Burna now a 2 time Grammy Award nominee and a Grammy Award winner). The show arrived with an equal mix of excitement and trepidation as has become the norm when international artists are set to perform here.
The story of this concert though has to begin with Events Evolution. It seems that with every stage setup they give us they keep on pushing the boundaries of what most thought was the standard for Zimbabwean entertainment events.
Hidden Culture also have to be commended for their organisation even though it’s shame they didn’t consider disability access a necessity for what could be a once in a lifetime experience. Yet still the supporting and headline performances went off without any technical glitches and the sound was brilliant. A performance schedule was issued by Hidden Culture but that was quickly thrown out the window. The Zimbabwean winter is being rather brutal this year and by the time performances were initially scheduled to end, I was in a blanket.
Dj Kyotic officially kicked off the show around 7 pm and his opening segment of HipHop transitions had me feeling both nostalgic and elated. It was simply phenomenal. He added Afrobeats to the mix and he lost me there for a while but he found me again when he went to Amapiano then lost me again and I again we were together when he was now playing electro house & EDM. His set was a journey of loss and discovery that captivated, barring a few speed bumps that didn’t really hit, what a set it was. He wasn’t on the decks for a fleeting moment too but he took his time.
Kyotic was followed by our very own Jah Prayzah and he made full use of that home crowd advantage. I wasn’t too sure about the outfit he had on but he showed us he was a true performer. The crowd got quite the treat when he surprised us by bringing out Tamy Moyo and they performed “Kuteera” together.
When it seemed like his set was drawing to a close and the crowd demanded an encore, he duly obliged. From the choreography of the backup dancers, to the work of 3rd generation band, Jah Prayzah’s performance was a memorable one. At some point during the rendition of “Goto”, it felt like I was in the middle of a seance, the crowd was in trance and it felt like a spiritual.
At exactly 22:55 the man everyone had been waiting for walked out on stage and the venue erupted with all the tension of if/when was released. “E don cast, last last, na everybody go chop breakfast…” were the first words to greet our ears from Burna Boy and the noise that followed those is indelible mark left on my memory of the night. From that first moment, right up until the end Burna Boy had the crowd under his spell.
We went from Love, Damini to Twice As Tall to African Giant to On A Spaceship back to African Giant then to Outsiders. The entire catalogue was on display along with the antics, the cheeky dancing and a phenomenal performance from Burna Boy’s band. The transition from Kilometre to Killin Dem might the greatest one minute of sound I’ve ever witnessed during a live performance.
As we’ve become accustomed to at a Burna show, his 6th sense of knowing when a bra has been thrown to him was on full display as he caught one effortlessly. Burna gave us energy and an amazing stage presence with his vulnerable side also being on display.
Well over an hour into his performance, Burna Boy couldn’t hold back his tears as he took a moment to honour his recently departed friend and then dedicated the next song to him. It was surreal how we were all entwined with his emotions right then. The entire crowd felt that sadness and it was an extremely poignant moment before Burna recollected himself and took us to the top again with an epic performance of “Ye”.
All through the night the beautiful Kim Jayde had held her own as the show host. Dj Kyotic had captivated us, Jah Prayzah entranced and Burna Boy had elevated what a performance means. The cold had been brutal, there was no accessibility, the drink selling system was trash and the transition between the different headlining performances could’ve been better but what a night.
Watch the video below fan throws bra at Buna boy while performing