By Arnold Asamoah-Baidoo
If you’d seen Wiyaala perform, you won’t expend any ounce of energy bantering the accolade I am bestowing on the artist. Before penning this piece, I’d initially wanted to title it – ‘Wiyaala Is Ghana’s Best Female Live Performer’, then something hit me; why limit her prowess to just gender when indeed, with my many years of watching performances of Ghanaian musicians, there’s simply no match for such competency on stage.
So yes – Wiyaala is Ghana’s best live performer – Period!
Another Concert, Another Testament
As a fan of Wiyaala, there was no way I was going to miss her ‘Lioness Concert’ at the Alliance Francais’ in Accra over the weekend, considering the fact that, the last time she staged her own concert, at the same venue was 3 years ago.
In the spate of those years, she has elevated her brand – touring the world, mesmerizing audiences across the globe, marketing her music and persona – making her the Ghanaian with the highest international appeal in the last couple of years.
Going into the concert, the core fans were expectant of what she was going to do but the first-timers were ambivalent on the outcome, not sure how the night was going to pan out and at the end of the concert, everybody left the venue with just one tag – fan of Wiyaala.
That’s how grand she was on the night, checking every box on the checklist of what a good performer should be.
The Core Fans Are White
There’s been talk about how Wiyaala is underrated in Ghana and how premium is not placed on her music here at home. Unfortunately, such chatter is true: Wiyaala is not rated as the Top 10 relevant acts in Ghana at the moment.
The point is – I don’t even recollect the last time I heard a Wiyaala tune on radio!
If there was any doubt about which group appreciated her music more, that question was answered over the weekend, where 85% of the audience were white – and clearly, it looked as though they had the most fun.
Let’s get back into the concert.
Oh, What A Voice!
The most important element any performer needs in a live performance is the voice and how it can be controlled and there’s no shred of doubt that, Wiyaala has that unique voice.
Having that eclectic voice was not the most captivating feature, but how she was able to control it in every song delivery was simply breath-taking. She is damn good with that voice!
With such exhibition of energy on stage, one would surmise that, she would flounder trying to remain in key while belting out such quality sound. Definitely not Wiyaala. She was unfazed but whatever energy she expended on that stage as she managed to control her range throughout the night.
No Familiar Songs, No Problem
I have seen countless performances by high-profile Ghanaian acts who come on stage to do new songs and are given such tepid response by the audience. So, I was a little giddy when Wiyaala announced at the beginning of her set that, she was predominantly going to do new songs off her yet-to-be-released album.
Such skepticism on the crowd reaction faded with each performance of a new song. You couldn’t help but fall in love with the voice, the stagecraft, the zest and zeal with which all the new songs were delivered.
And it didn’t matter that 99% of patrons did not understand the lyrics of most of the songs in Sissala and others. We didn’t care! They were expertly performed and it was extremely fun watching how they were performed.
First, the camaraderie that existed between her and the ever-splendid Patch Bay Band was telling. The chemistry and communication between the two was pleasing, adding on to the splendour of the night.
Clearly, she and her team have garnered lots of experience over the years, and their choice to use dancers from the Ghana Dance Ensemble to embellish her stagecraft was impressive.
The timing, precision and execution of every act on stage was just awesome as there was very little to grouse about.
Any consummate live performer must be able to interact with the crowd, know when to do with and must be effectual with it. It was effortless for her in that regard.
She explained the concept behind every song, the inspiration behind it and she is such a good storyteller too. Her sense of humour added so much to her oration.
Her ability to engage the audience in making them part of her set was simply brilliant, calling patrons to come dance on stage, sing and feel a part of her showmanship. Excellent showing!
It was also impressive how she gave credit to anybody that aided in any act done that night, whether it was songwriting, composition, or an inspiration to the making of a song – she made critical mention of such persons.
Teddy Osei Tribute
For some, the highlight of the night came quite early, when Wiyaala brought out Teddy Osei, the only surviving member of the legendary music group, Osibisa. It was a teary moment as the two performed Wiyaala’s rendition the group’s hit song, ‘Woyaya’.
The event was grand and short. By 10:30pm, it was over. There was no need for the inundation of supporting acts or room for any unnecessary breaks and all.
Patrons had fun, danced and participated fully in making the night an awesome one. There was no dull moment and the audience played a pivotal role in making Wiyaala look good too. They responded when they had to, chimed in when necessary and did heed to every call and gesture of the artist.
Unlike many other shows, patrons actually left wanting more of Wiyaala. She simply bowed out when the applause was profound.