The crowd surged to the front when emcees Cess Mutungi and Edward Kwach announced that the Queen of Neo Soul was on her way to the stage, Erykah Badu.
Her band struck up the chords and beat the drums in dramatic fashion to invite the persona on stage that was the reason for the Tusker Lite Experience on December 11.
“Nairobi,” she said and a wave of cheers was the response she got…and the most magnanimous performance the city has ever seen began.
Dressed in an orange hat, poncho, hoodie and heels, Erykah started off her performance, accentuated by earthy hand movements, a synthesizer, screams and controlled echoes – but soon the poncho, hoodie, and heels were off. And she showed love to Nairobi through her music like only she can.
She started just after 9pm and went on and on for close to two hours, taking two encores from fans to cap her performance with hit songs ‘Bag Lady’ and ‘Call Tyrone’.
Kiss Your Neck, The Healer, Next Lifetime, Soldier, Love of My Life, Umm Hmm, Love and Danger were among the several songs she merged together in a one of a kind concert crafted especially for her Kenyan fans.
At every break she would make the crowd go crazy by saying “Nairobi, I love you!”
Erykah was backed up by a talented band, including 3-time Grammy nominated producer RC Cola on the keyboards, and Grammy Award winning producer Jon Jon Traxx on the bass guitar.
The concert was opened by Ugandan Saxophonist Isaiah Katumwa, who handed over to DJs Adrian and Andre before Badu came on.
The camera shy 41 year old musician later held a private meet-and-greet session for a group of 20 or so fans at the Carnivore Grounds – in a tent behind the main performance area. She told the group to ask her questions, which she promised to answer honestly.
When asked about her experience in Nairobi she said she was still digesting the energetic show, and would have loved to visit the wildlife and the different hoods just to see how people live.
“There hasn’t been much time.”
“You sing like a woman in love, are you in love?” asked one female fan, and Erykah responded by saying; “get outta my mind!”
A fan then pointed to musician Bamboo who was in the tent, asking what advice Erykah could give to young upcoming artistes.
“There’s no one thing, but I can say the most important is for them to be true. When you’re true to yourself then the audience can see it. They can see it when you’re fake,” she added.
She admitted that she was working on some new music, which would be ready when it was time.
All in all, Badu’s first time in Kenya was an amazing experience. Thank you Tusker Lite!