Live Report: Sarkodie x The Compozers & Friends – Outernet, London

A celebration of Ghana's cultural impact...

On March 6th 1957 Ghana was declared free from British Colonial rule. The impact and influence of Ghanaian music and musicians are invaluable, growing every year with the proliferation of afrobeats and artists like Sarkodie, D-Black and King Promise consistently batting a thousand.

This year to honour Ghana’s independence, rap icon Sarkodie joined forces with The Compozers to celebrate with a selection of Ghana’s most incredible musical talents. Across two sold-out shows on the 5th and 6th of March, the newly acclaimed Outernet venue hosted the 66th anniversary of Ghana’s Independence to a high-octane crowd. The Compozers are well known for holding their own yearly Ghana Independence festivities but last year Sarkodie spontaneously appeared at the Independence show. Birthing the collaborative idea of this annual event, with the likes of King Promise, Stonebwoy and Michaela Cole making appearances over the duration.

The second night kicked off with DJ OV who brought the atmosphere up as people streamed down the stairs, buzzing with the anticipation of seeing a legend like Sarkodie at a more intimate venue. Sarkodie was the first African act to sell out New York’s Apollo Theatre so being able to see him perform and celebrate so closely with him and his collaborators makes for a memorable experience. The Compozers began their set with a rendition of the Ghanaian national anthem on an electric guitar decorated with the Ghanaian flag. After which they were joined by Sarkodie for a show of his best-known songs.

The British-Ghanaian group from North London are described as the dictators of the sound, consisting of Nana ‘Pokes’ Ntorinkansah, David ‘Melodee’ Ohene-Akrasi, Stephen ‘Drummerboy’ Asamoah-Duah and Charlie ‘Biggz’ Mensah-Bonsu. This time around Stephen Asamoah-Duah’s performance was inspired to say the least, no surprise considering The Compozers have travelled the world performing with artists like Wizkid & Koffee.  

‘Married To The Game’ and ‘Rollies And Cigars’ stood on a particularly high note, especially in their dynamic with the crowd. After an extended set, the stage was given over to Juls with Flava, Mista Silva and Skoboriginal making appearances. His set was abruptly cut short at the end but any time spent watching Juls is never time wasted, he kept the energy moving through the room and there’s rarely a still moment when this pioneer is in the booth. 

With Sarkodie and the composers returning for a closing set, the openness between the artists on stage made it easy to catch on to the same wave. Their performance of ‘U Go Kill Me’ was a stand-out moment. It’s been said that London crowds are notoriously difficult to play to, however, that doesn’t seem to ring true on this occasion. In many ways, the crowd became the main character during the evening. It’s rare for a whole room to know every word when a song is playing, too many times we’ve witnessed a performer pause for a unified singing moment only to be met with a few enthused shouts over a bed of silence. This audience could have carried the evening’s festivities themselves without any assistance. At several points, their singing was so all-encompassing that Sarkodie had no option but to take a step back, let them hold the song themselves and take in the energy of the room. No doubt those kinds of moments keep the fire of his creative passion burning, over a decade after the release of his first album.

A crescendo combined with wild bursts of confetti falling from the heavens served to close out proceedings on a spectacularly high note. With Sarkodie and The Compozers asking the crowd if they wanted to see the event return for the annual celebration in 2024, from the response gathered by the crowd I think it’s easy to confirm the result as a unanimous and quite definite yes.

Words: Naima Sutton

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