On November 10, London-based singer Aadae performed at SET Space in Dalston, Shoreditch. The singer was born in Nigeria, but raised in Peckham and represents a breath of fresh air in London’s Afrobeat and R&B scene.
The concert venue, already fairly cosy thanks to the small size of the room and to the smoky and foggy lights that barely illuminated the room, got a strong personal vibe, thanks to the large number of photos decorating the room. These pictures, some of them taken by Aadae, floated in the air through an almost invisible wire fixed on the ceiling.
As the singer had explained during an interview, these photos represent her life experiences and political view regarding the Nigerian South London diaspora:
“The event is going to be an amazing combo of crowd sourced photographs of people from a variety a different backgrounds to celebrate how diverse and colourful London is and a soundscape and live performance that echoes this theme. On a very personal level, I will also be documenting my own experiences of South East London“.
She added: “I am inviting people into my way of seeing — I think it will be interesting as shine a light on some really unique subcultures. Get ready to see how I really tie my gele, how auntie patterns my fro with her Afro comb and ilarun, and how some of us worship in our white sutanas with bare feet… after all, they don’t call Peckham ‘little Lagos’ for nothing“.
The concert started at 8:30pm with artist Deborah performing as opening act. A video, projected on the wall at the front of the stage and showing a scene from the theatre play The Vagina Monologue, opened the performance.
The Vagina Monologue is a play written by Eve Ensler and explores consensual and non-consensual sexual experiences, body image and several other topics, through the eyes of women with various ages, races, sexualities, and other differences. The singer openly acknowledged that the video inspired her songs, while joking about the making of her EP, which she wrote after drinking alcohol.
The bassline of Deborah’s R&B songs shook the general darkness of the venue, which was barely illuminated by a blurry yellow front light and by the burnt peak of an incense stick, which the singer held like a cigarette. Seeing the singer was actually quite difficult, and only occasional camera flashlights painted the singer’s shape.
Her overall performance was quite impressive, thanks to catchy instrumentals and her echoed voice creating a dreamy atmosphere. Deborah switched from R&B tracks to rap songs, while the audience kept singing along with passion.
Following the opening act, Aadae appeared on the stage accompanied by an atmospheric Afrobeat music. The artist was followed by two choristers, who would sing alongside the singer throughout her set, and a drummer, who would also take over a laptop to play pre-registered instrumentals.
Aadae started the concert with an impressive Afrobeat music intro, mixing different languages and igniting fans and friends’ excitement. The singer then switched to her rhythmic song “Flatline (Make Me Lose My Mind)”, characterized by powerful drums and claps accompanying the vocals. “Welcome to my world” said the artist, as soon as the song ended, also joking about the general darkness of the venue.
Aadae then started singing her new single “Fly Free”, and the audience couldn’t help dancing during the entire track. Afterwards, the artist surprised her fans with a cover of “I’d Rather Go Blind” by Etta James, a song that allowed Aadae to display all her impressive vocal talent. She definitely nailed the song, conveying perfectly its message and giving the impression it was part of her repertory.
Aadae then performed her track “Die Happy”, characterized by catchy choruses following the lead singer. This song was mixed with a short part of another unpublished song called “Glorious”, which is still unfinished and may be released as single very soon. Fans seemed to appreciate the song, as they sang along “We are Glorious, We are Glorious…”.
After warm light illuminated the singer’s shape during her performance of “Just Found Out”, she performed her 2018 successful “Carousel Horses”. Unfortunately, a technical problem stopped the instrumentals of the song, leaving the venue in quite an awkward silence. The singer apologized for the problem, but the audience definitely appreciated her, since the artist delivered a second performance of this beautiful song.
The artist closed the concert with the amazing beats of her “River Of Tears” song, before thanking everyone for coming and jumping down the stage, to be amongst her cheering fans and friends.
To sum up, the concert was an exceptional experience. I have rarely seen a concert with such a thick atmosphere, almost managing to fuse the stage, singer and audience together. The general darkness and the foggy and blurry lights helped to get this effect, but the atmospheric quality of Aadae’s music surely had a major role.
The music almost never stopped throughout the concert: even when the singer was talking to her audience, a delicate afrobeat soundtrack was still playing in the background. This way, every song was somehow connected and fused to the following one, without any strong or sudden stop.
Aadae is an artist who has definitely found her artistic identity and style. She managed to perfectly take over the stage and her humour was lovely, above all when she was joking about performers and following the technical problems during “Carousel Horses”. Personally, I have been struck by her impressive vocal talent, and I am sure we will hear about her very soon.
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Words by Federico Fancelli