energetic surge

Nigeria’s Davido conquers UK and US with new ‘Timeless’ album

By Dami Ajayi

Posted on April 12, 2023 09:16

FtHQPbJX0AIEfuw © Davido at Koko in London on 7 April 2023 (photo via @DavidoOnCam by: 
Davido at Koko in London on 7 April 2023 (photo via @DavidoOnCam by: @amzy_obr)

Davido’s Timeless Night concert at Koko, a former theatre-turned-concert venue in London’s Camden, was one of his international appearances to promote his latest album, ‘Timeless’. Loosely themed around time, it’s more a synonym for eternal, compared to his previous albums ‘A Good Time’, and ‘A Better Time’.

With the passage of time and growth, Davido is wiser about measuring time.

At 9pm, Davido appeared on stage wearing a purple balaclava mask over his face. On his new record, the rueful ‘LCND’ (acronym for Legends Can Never Die), rendered by the backup band The Compozers, ushered him in the perfect entrance song about resilience in the light of his recent tragic losses.

Davido removed his mask and performed a cache of throwback hit songs: from ‘Dami Duro’ to the dance instructional, ‘Skelewu’ matched by the enthused crowd.

DJ ECool whispered into Davido’s ear mid-performance, and his face lit with a smile, accentuating his dimple. “My manager just told me my album is number one in America,” Davido said.

Records broken

Timeless, Davido’s fourth studio LP album, already shattered the record of the most first-day streams ever for an African album on Apple Music on its release date. Barely one week later, the 49-minute-long record comprising 17 songs is the first African album to top the US iTunes charts.

Davido belongs to the Afrobeats Quintet — which includes Wizkid, Burna Boy, Tiwa Savage and Olamide — who released their first significant body of work circa 2012. It has been more than a decade of sustained excellence for this prodigious cohort who have brought the genre its biggest wins yet, shattering ceilings and putting West African music a seat at the global table.

With a boyish charm, unmatched generosity, a strong sense of community and an uncanny ability to make hit songs, Davido’s incredible run, despite a privileged upbringing and a lifetime of grief, is a testimony to his courage, craft, and consistency.

Davido, in celebratory spirits, performed ‘The Money’ and ‘Risky’. These iconic tunes, released at least three years apart, exemplify his strategic local and international collaborations. He has kept his fans at home sweetened while luring new global fans into the 30BG with good results.

‘Pervasive mood of Timeless

David performed ‘Kante’ from Timeless. With just the right amount of repeating ‘Hold my waist’ in its delightful post-chorus helmed by Fave, it is unsurprising that this dancehall duet is already an early favourite, raking in streams.

He performed the mid-tempo opening song ‘Over Dem’, a worthy entry into the novel Afro-Adura Afrobeats category, Blaise-Beats-produced ‘For the Road’ and the elegant love song duet ‘No Competition’, featuring an adulatory verse from Fujipiano maestro, Asake.

The pervasive mood of cautious optimism on Timeless is not lost on the concert audience, offering a muted response to Davido’s new material and wild enthusiasm for his classic nostalgic songs.  The sound quality was sub-par with malfunctioning microphones. The stage was a clutter of sidemen and disc jockeys.

Intimate setting for UK release

With a Tarzanic set swinging across his discography, this concert seemed unambiguous about its ambition. It could have been a medley of coveted classics or a listening party for his new material — it chose both.

The intimate setting of the former theatre presented for a minimalist production was all but missed in this over-produced set. The blinding photic stimulation from the stage light was in bad taste. Ditto for a dangling curtain, in furtherance of the theatre metaphor, threatening a curtain call.

While Stephen ‘Drummerboy’ Asamoah-Duah of The Compozers band quartet stood out for his over-enthusiastic drumming, the hapless backup vocalists, like Davido, struggled with the new material.

Despite his improved range and vocal harmonies, Davido still needed to give much thought to performing his latest tunes. However, the gracious but often distracted crowd mumbled along while some vaped fragrant nicotine and CBD oils, yet some captured the moment for their social media timelines and digital archives.