A sun-kissed Saturday evening is the setting for a show that will undoubtedly go down in the history books. 80,000 fans checked in at the London Stadium for an unprecedented moment – Burna Boy the first ever African artist to sell out the venue. The achievement is testament to the cultural relevance of afrobeats and artist like Burna who have helped make the sound global. Glancing around, names like Naomi Campbell, Damson Idris and Letitia Wright are all in attendance.
The fairground themed stage is well-lit, exuding rockstar energy and nonchalance. It first welcomes an ensemble of dancers and marching drummers – sounds bubbling before the first glimpse of the African Giant spurs on an eruption of cheers from the crowd. Burna Boy enters on a revolving carousel as he kicked off with 2019 hit ‘Gbona’.
The OG Burna fans erupt in the audience, gifted songs such as ‘Tonight’, ‘Soke’ and ‘Like To Party’ – each of these releases are over 10 years old now but receive instant excitement.
The Nigerian superstar’s stage presence is undeniable as he embarks on sultrier territory. Dancers strut to the platform to perform sleek pole choreo as sounds of ‘Gwarn’ and ‘Secret’ developed. The sea of rhythmically-swaying concert goers are next delivered ‘Sitting On Top Of The World’ – the Brandy and Mase sampled single is the perfect ode to this era as he rounds off a world tour.
Dopamine rushes around our bodies as the first surprise guest appeared: Dave joining Burna Boy for their smash hit ‘Location’. It’s quickly followed by a pop-up from the elusive J Hus – the long-standing collaborators performing ‘Play Play’ and ‘Sekkle Down’ before going B2B on an unreleased exclusive.
As the show continues, one can only marvel at his catalogue. Cult-classic tracks like ‘On The Low’, ‘Spiritual’, and ‘Wonderful’ explode onstage; the latter fleshed out with a mesmerising sax solo, while ‘Bank On It’ similarly sees Burna Boy acoustically flexing his robust vocals. The whole production is soaked in Nigerian culture – only stopping for a nod to the late Sidhu Moose Wala, their single ‘Mera Na’ released earlier this year.
Emotive lyrics to the Wakanda Forever stand-out ‘Alone’ are sung in unison before Stormzy comes through, the two sharing a wholesome performance of ‘Real Life’ and ‘Own It’. Post interval saw the unruly Popcaan come out for ‘Toni Ann Singh’.
Bravado on 100 as Burna becomes even more interactive – playing his own drum segment, shuffling as he belts ‘Sungba’ as well as his own rendition of ‘Jerusalema’.
Roaring live versions of ‘Anybody’, ‘Kilometre’, ‘Killin Dem’ seem like crowning moments for the West African mogul, before he then floats above the stage on a table set, echoing the iconic artwork for his ‘Love Damini’ album cover ‘Its Plenty’. The night rounds out with ‘Ye’, the stadium now only lit by its own lights, the experience nearing an end.
Closing out with multi-platinum selling 2022 summer anthem ‘Last Last’, the London Stadium roaring expeditiously, fans and the stage aligned. Truly great shows are characterised by a feeling of unity, Burna Boy signing off his historic set with a euphoric atmosphere.
Words: Shanté Collier-McDermott