Nneka at the Mod Club, Toronto – Concert review (CMW 2012)

March 28, 2012

Nneka and her band at the Mod Club, Toronto - photo Brian Banks, Music Vice
The Gig: Nneka at Canadian Music Week (CMF) 2012
Where: Lee’s Palace, Toronto, Canada
When: 23 March 2012
In One Word: Therapeutic

 This was not your average concert.

On Friday night in Toronto, Nigerian-born hip hop/soul sensation Nneka lifted the spirits of everyone inside the Mod Club as she performed what she so aptly describes as ‘public therapy’. Couples danced and strangers became friends as Nneka lit up the room with her fantastic, absolutely-positive personality, and her deeply soulful voice.

This was Nneka’s second visit to Toronto and tonight’s crowd was much bigger than the first. Nneka spoke with great warmth about her first visit to Canada and that concert and said that tonight she aimed to create the same atmosphere, only at a “different frequency”. Nneka passed and eclipsed her goal with aplomb. Undoubtedly, this was my favourite concert from Canadian Music Week 2012.

The tempo and mood would fluctuate between songs, as Nneka sung her stories – her lyrical influences are heavy, but always sung with hope and love. At one moment against the backing of some brilliant desert blues guitar by her right hand man, Nneka invited the audience to ‘raise your hands, Canada!’ and we were happy to oblige. And when Nneka spoke of her upbringing in Warri, Nigeria she described all the problems caused by oil, gas flaring and a lack of electricity, and of how power corrupts. This song, “V.I.P.” – Vagabonds In Power – was the most powerful of the night and also an example of Nneka’s fun and playful spirit, as she encouraged the French-speakers in the audience to shout out “Vagabonds in POW-ER”, while joshing the Americanized English speakers to sing with “Vagabonds in POWWW-A”. Or something like that. Like, whatever.

Towards the end of her set, Nneka invited her friend Romeo to join her and the band on stage. The power and love emitting from the stage increased as Nneka and her talented band delivered wave after wave of rhythmic energy and soul, that pulsed against me. I just stood there and got soaked as the waves came crashing in… baptized by soul.

© Brian Banks, Editor, Music Vice

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Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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