In the few weeks to the 26th of September, the build-up to the 2Face Live Concert rose to a crescendo that can almost be described as manic. From constant ads and sweepstakes running on the radio, to talk and buzz on social platforms. The buzz was justified for many reasons. First of which is the fact that, Live concerts (without backing tracks) are a rarity. Next is the commonly known fact that 2face is an extraordinary entertainer. He’s often been tagged as Nigeria’s biggest export. He has had his share of highs as well as his lows. And it’s safe to say that night, live shows in Nigeria have been restricted solely to soul and alternative music acts – never mainstream.
For 2face, the show started long before the large doors of Eko Hotel’s Expo Center swung open to guests at 6.23PM. With all the props set on stage, he got in one last rehearsal from top to bottom with the whole cast. Right in the middle of the final rehearsal, CNN cast and crew arrived for a 10 minute interview with 2face. It’s possibly the second time, a contemporary Nigerian artiste would get an appearance on CNN (First was Nneka on African Voices). After a few words with Isha Sesay, he discussed with Studio 53 Extra‘s Eku Edewor about the soon-to-begin show.
With the interviews over, 2face was hustled through the already gathering crowd of fans from Eko Hotel’s swimming pool back in the hall to get the final bit of the rehearsal done. With that covered, the hall was soon cleared and the doors were opened to guests after a short wait. The queue to get tickets processed was long to say the least, but guests were not dismayed as excitement filled the air.
A few spins from the DJ and a quick dance routine to get the guests settled in and pumped for the evenings festivities. Talented songstress, Tiwa Savage, officially kicked off the show with her rendition of National anthem followed shortly by a performance of her popular single, Kele Kele Love. A short tribute video to 2face, was played, featuring tributes from Wyclef, D’banj, M.I, Banky, and a host of others.
Hosts of the event, M.I and Banky formally welcomed the guests and dropped a few wise cracks that got the crowd going. The show really got started as noise of feigned chaos poured from the speakers while dancers flooded the stage choreographing a state of anarchy – beating and killing each other. 2face sang Odi Ya from off the stage. For the 2 full minutes that this went on, the almost silent question was ‘Where’s 2face?’
That question got answered at the start of Free with 2face making his grand entrance in chains and an orange jumpsuit, tethered by two really tall models. While he performed, he was dragged back and forth on the stage by them, as he fought to get through his song. He made a theatrical costume switch from the orange jumpsuit to a white tunic and performed One Love. At the costume change, the crowd went wild.
The tempo slowed down, with 2face behind a red screen. An unknown (at the time) female silhouette, stripped him down and then proceeded to dance sensually against him.
The crowd response was high, with cat calls and lots of laughter filling the hall. He finally came from behind the screen and introduced the mystery lady as Tonto Dike. Right after which he came from behind the screen and performed Flex and then Outside.
The tempo slowed further down with 2face singing a medley of his love songs from True Love to African Queen. While he performed the award winning song, a bevy of beauties catwalked out on the stage. At the end of which he introduced all the guests to his (in his words) number one African Queen – his daughter, Ene Idibia.
He performed Thank You from his debut album, with some little children dressed as angels holding candles. At the end of this, he sang along side a quick selection of the artistes he’d worked with over his career.
One in a Million Girl with Solidstar, Street Credibilty with 9ice, Stylee with DJ Jimmy Jatt and Elajoe, Sip Easy with Freestyle and Enter the Place with Sound Sultan. His song with Sound Sultan saw Timaya and Terry G jumping on stage and dancing ‘alanta’ along with 2face as they repeated a particular line in their song “We dey dance alanta/we dey leap/we dey hop eh“. He crowned off the featured performances with songs from his Plantashun Boiz days alongside Faze. They sang two songs from the glory days like Knock Me Off Baby as well as Baby Don’t You Know.
He ended the night’s activities with a highly anticipated performance of Implication. Midway through the song, all the guest artistes present joined 2face on stage as everyone in the hall jumped and sang along.
Photo Credit: Shola Animashaun