Afrobeats superstar Tems kicks off Summer Series at Somerset House in style with an energetic
performance despite health concerns.
Tems is riding the wave of success in 2022 after winning the Best International Act award at this year’s
BET Awards, performing at Glastonbury and becoming the first African woman to hit No.1 on Billboard
The Nigerian singer-songwriter shows no signs of slowing down as she now headlines the opening night
of Summer Series at Somerset House.
In recent years there has been an influx of Nigerian artists in the UK charts from Wizkid to Burna Boy, and also Tems. It feels like this could be the golden age of Afrobeats, or with any luck, it is a sign of
what is to come as the genre becomes more and more popular in the West.
The stage was set in the majestic fountain courtyard of London’s Somerset House. It was a beautiful
setting for the Summer concert as the sun was setting and the vast neo-classical building towered over
the stage from all angles, a daunting prospect for most performers.
Tems took it all in her stride and came on the stage with charisma and confidence, opening with ‘Higher’,
the 2020 song which was sampled on the Future and Drake’s ‘WAIT FOR U’ which earnt her the No.1
spot in the US charts.
It was a beautiful rendition which took the audience aback as it showcased the power of her melodies in a live setting.
She then turned things up with an energetic performance of ‘Avoid Things’ full of dancing and shaking.
Tems took a moment to soak up the atmosphere and tell the crowd that it was a ‘miracle’ that she was
able to perform here tonight.
The Nigerian singer went on to say that she was on vocal rest for two weeks after suffering ‘reflux
laryngitis’ which meant that she had to cancel two UK tour dates in London and Birmingham.
Despite her vocal concerns, Tems was brave and didn’t hide behind heavy backing tracks or backing
singers as many would have done in her situation.
The vocals, setting and special effects were a treat and combined for a unique experience in the
courtyard of Somerset House.
The energy in the crowd was a bit flat throughout the first section of the performance but the turning point came during ‘Looku Looku’ as the recovering singer’s voice cracked as she struggled to hit the high notes as the performance went on. However, the crowd rallied behind Tems and cheered and sang along.
The evening was full of good vibes and ended on a high with a flurry of Tems’ biggest hits, starting with
‘Try Me’ which led into her huge collaboration with Wizkid ‘Essence.’ There was a huge cheer from the
crowd which sang and danced along with the singer to the lively beat.
Tems finished the hour-long set with ‘Free Mind’ and brought a fan on stage to dance along and duet the
opening section with her.
During the performance, Tems jokingly assured the crowd “that’s not me, that’s the reflux…” The Nigerian singer soldiered on through the performance and despite a couple of voice cracks towards the end, delivered a stunning performance at the opening night of Summer Series.
There are exciting times ahead for Tems, and Afrobeats as a whole, as she showed potential that it won’t be long before she is ready to perform on the biggest of stages soon if she keeps this momentum up.
Words: Adam Davidson
Photo Credit: Takis Zontiros