Last night, we were serenaded by Timi Dakolo’s art and I learnt that love, sometimes, is great vocals accompanied with the right instruments – especially gongs, saxophones, and crazy good guitars – and 3-course dinners and fine wine. It is you swaying from side to side and enjoying being wrapped in the ambiance and warmth of great music. If you came with a lover whose hands you can reach out to touch or whose gaze you can hold; alright. Otherwise, you are content being by yourself under the power of clearly enunciated lyrics of some of the most powerful love songs ever written; appreciating the timelessness of art (it does not matter if you go home afterwards and cry). In those moments, it dawns on you that Timi Dakolo exists in a class all by himself and that perhaps, the greatest edge to his art is his ability to sing with a conviction and understanding of the meaning of the words and feelings he sings about. Hence, every time his rich voice bellows, he is able to pull the right strings in you and connect to the core parts of your being that is capable of understanding what he sings about.
When I learnt that Timi Dakolo was headliner for this year’s edition of Ribbons n Roses, I could already imagine what was to come. A look at the venue last night and I knew whoever said not to judge a book by its cover probably did not think of all the possible scenarios where it was okay to do so. It was a welcoming Banquet Hall of Eko Hotel and Suites, decorated and silhouetted with the right combination of lights and set up to cater for just 200 guests. When I play back memories of the evening in my mind, it is obvious that a major strength for Ribbons n Roses is the intimacy it created which let everyone feel a part of the night and truly special. On one hand, it felt personal, like the evening was just about you. On the other, it felt like hanging out and cooling off with your close buddies. On this evening, couples held hands, cuddled, danced, laughed without a care of who was watching. All forms of pretentiousness were left at the door.
To set the tone for the evening were a number of upcoming acts, each performing a cover of a classic and an original. Among them was Mz Way whose rendition of Simply the Best by Tina Turner was too lit, to put it mildly. She was able to hit the right notes and could literally pierce your resolve against love by the sheer sharpness of it. I am not joking. There was also 10Ten whose original piece, Amope, I especially liked. Did you alwasy imagine that gongs were the stuff of native songs only and probably had no place in contemporaneity? Well, you are wrong. The distinct sound of the twin-gong in that song, balanced out by the saxophones and guitars still rings in my head. It was everything a great art should be. DNA started off with John Legend’s All of Me and cascaded into well done covers of Djinee’s Ego and Seyi Sodimu’s Love me Jeje, all in reggae version.
Timi Dakolo began with a cover of Ed Sheeran’s Tenerife Sea (So in Love) and quickly escalated to a reggae remix of Lionel Richie’s Stuck on You and John Legend’s All of Me, so good, John Legend will love it. On this tempo, he progressed to Bob Marley’s Waiting in Vain and Stir it up. Then there was Teddy Pendagrass’ It so good loving somebody, where Timi Dakolo, moving through the audience, engaged in a call and response, allowed individuals to be a part of the performance. I can never get over Iyawo mi and it was a song that unanimously brought couples to their feet and had husbands gushing to their wives. Those who didn’t have husbands, like me, just soaked in the song and imagined being spoken off/to in those words. It was Timi Dakolo’s performance of When a Man Loves a woman at West African Idols in 2007 that first drew my attention to his art. And when he lit the hall with it again last night, it was clear why he won in 2007. Then there was Sexual Healing (Breathes out…) Then for the first time, he performed his soon-to-be released single Medicine, as well as Run from his upcoming album: jam for days!!! I can’t even wait for them to be out. He wrapped up the night with a tribute to the late Eric Erubayi with the song Heaven Please.
Last night, it was very easy to let go, to give into love; to wine, dine, dance and connect. One of the ladies at my table said of the evening: “I am going to be on a high for the rest of the month. I am filled.” Similarly, the gentleman next to us echoed: “I have enjoyed every minute of this evening”. When at the end I said thank yous to both Timi Dakolo and Edi Lawani for a great show, I meant it. That Nigerians showed up late to the event was now inconsequential; that there were a few technical hitches, and even a power outage for a few minutes, didn’t matter anymore. Timi Dakolo saved the evening and “redeemed” the lapses with a soulful performance.
Can we have more please?