After a hiatus from music following the death of his mother, singer Nomoreloss showed up at the monthly concert Afropolitan Vibes this past Friday 21 August. To be sure, it wasn’t his first performance since the break—he anchors a show elsewhere in the Lagos night scene—but the scale was different.
The show itself started as it usually does, with a performance by host Ade Bantu’s band. A note of consciousness was injected on the night with band leader Bantu asking ‘where are our daughters?’ in reference to the kidnapped Chibok girls, adding: ‘Let’s ask Buhari. We must keep reminding them to bring back our daughters.’ He urged the crowd to sing along ‘make dem hear for Aso Rock!’
Introducing Nomoreloss, Ade Bantu implored the crowd to cheer. ‘They say he will not come out if you don’t shout.’ The crowd gave in and a toothy, grinning Nomoreless came out to enthusiastic applause and whoops. ‘Where have you been?’ someone asked.
‘You people are giving me a cerebral hard-on,’ he said to laughter from the throng. His appeal was always wedged to a particular sense of humour. And accordingly, he opened his set with ‘Kite,’ a subtly risqué song of unrequited love.
His performance was filled with comic interludes. At some point during his performance, he noted that fuji king KWAM 1 is ‘the greatest R&B singer I know’ and then sang a fuji love song. This gave way to Bob Marley’s ‘Stir it Up’.
Eyes closed, he moved athwart. A genuine showman, he appeared to enjoy the songs as much as his audience. He moved on to ‘Ojuri,’ a song of reflection. ‘I need you to listen,’ he said. ‘It’s not about dance.’
‘It is no longer about the commercial aspect,’ he told Music in Africa before his performance. ‘I want to do music because I want to do it. I have my market and I am free to be at my creative best. I will not compromise my standards.’
The sober ‘Ojuri’ seemed to alienate a segment of his audience. Perhaps to rectify this his backing band began playing the beat to his most popular song, ‘Iyawo Asiko’, a playful song about an adulterous woman. An infectious tune, the crowd, composed significantly of expats who do not know the song, swayed. It was the night’s highlight.
Nomoreloss had steered off any hint of the loss of his mother years ago. ‘I did a track about her death,’ he said about how the loss affected his ‘Beautiful Things’ album, which comes out in October. ‘This time it’s to celebrate her.’
Subsequently, actor Wole Ojo climbed onstage, dancing to Fela’s ‘Lady’. He sang briefly as well. Several ladies and a few men got on the stage and danced. The crowded stage contained a radio personality, a novelist, two poets, and, this being Lagos, a few unknowns. Ade Bantu and his band performed regular Afropolitan number, ‘Lagos Jump’. The skies dripped lightly and then stopped altogether.
‘You see what Lagos Jump can do,’ he shouted. ‘The rain stopped!’
Indeed. But the show went on.