When I started this blog 4 years ago, it was to keep my sanity in Lagos. Sans job, sans familiar circles and with two kids away in school, writing quickly became my way of staying alive because there were days I felt I would suffocate. Four years later and an addition to the family, I realize I now post for my enjoyment – and later reading. This is my Psalms 105:5 version of Remember and tell – of His goodness and wondrous deeds He has done and the judgements He pronounced.
Through the Years I’ve heard about The Experience, a concert hosted by House on the Rock church in Lekki. The all-night event brings together some of the biggest gospel acts from Nigeria and abroad for a night of wholesome worship. I have never been invited – but then again, whom would you expect to invite you to a mega-concert? Last week I gathered the will power to attend the concert which was held at the Tafewa Balewa Square (TBS) in Lagos Island.
Make no mistake – The Experience is about crowds. The high and the Low. All stands, cricket pitch, VIP area, outside TBS — The Experience is about crowds. House on the Rock states that appearances have grown from 70,000 in 2006 when they first started to 700,000 in 2016. (Let me put it out here that TBS’ official records say it can hold 50,000 people – so even if you multiply this 4 times, it will only be 200,000). But I am not here to argue numbers.
My first reaction was WOW! You know Lagos is “Go big or go Home” city. I was amazed by the crowds. So many people in one place and so organized. The area around the VIP seating space (and VIP doesn’t really mean important but proximity to the stage here) had a couple of mini-stampede threatening episodes when the ushers went to give water to the crowds as everyone suddenly surged forward. To their credit, they managed this pretty well and prevented anyone from jumping past the barricades, but not before there were several first aid incidents. (Perhaps they should re-think offering water to ten thousand plus people at one time in the middle of the night – kind-hearted but needs total crowd management).
After I got over my Wow – it was time to worship. I missed Soni Badu’s opening act and we arrived about 10 minutes before Chevelle Franklin got on stage. I was waiting for Gospo Reggae but she chose to do a medly of Nigerian worship songs. Like Huh! Confused much. Then I remembered Nigerian worship is that “If you can’t beat them, join them” type of Praise and surrendered.
I’ve never watched Midnight Crew until that day. I don’t know much about them but hear they’ve been around almost 15 years. Then there’s Tim Godfrey and His band. Their energy levels were something else. Costume. Oh wow! I hear he’s Nigeria’s Kirk Franklin. There’s something about Nigerian Praise no matter who headlines their concerts – it is intended to Glorify the Father. No matter what performance theatrics are employed to accompany the song, the lyrics always point to Heaven.
There was Frank Edwards – who looked quite different from when I last saw him in 2016. Chioma Jesus who doesn’t seem to move an inch the entire time she sings, but the Igbo worship coming out of her is great. Don Moen (and he wore his Jubilee shirt – only Kenyans will get this one). Eben. The worship was interspersed with acts of comedy from Kenny Blaq, Akpororo etc.
One of my highlights of the night was Travis Greene (of course). THe guy who reminded us – I don’t know how God does it, but He made a way. He shared the background to that song after introducing his Ghanaian wife (He who finds a wife finds a good thing, He who finds a Ghanaian Wife finds good food ‘jollof’ – his words). Totally on point. Then Donnie McLurKin came on and they did this mini-collabo with Travis and Micah Stampey.
Then Nathaniel Bassey. The man who broke the internet earlier this year with his midnight worship calls to Olowogbogboro – there’s nothing you cannot do God. Let me say something about Bassey – I don’t know who writes his music but he has a knack for producing hit after hit. Imela, Onise Iyanu – the God of awesome wonders, This God is too good O, Alagbada Ino etc. At the beginning of this year, I attended a funeral and they had to play ‘Wonderful Wonder’. At a 50th birthday celebration this week, the celebrant (Naija English) sang Wonderful Wonder, a song that’s a testimony of his life. My 2-year-old can’t sing a song in Swahili but she sings ‘Iyanu’ like her life depends on it. Bassey is gifted in so many ways…let me stop here.
What a night of worship unto God. I may be narrating the acts but this is just a memory of the men/women that night who got people on their knees in worship so many times on those concrete grounds of TBS. The damper for the night was the MC intervals, which of themselves would have been okay if only to introduce the acts on stage. But sha! Nigeria. Every important person showing up had to be recognized, introduced and some given a chance to speak. Governor Ambode attended Experience – his first time, he said – to receive a certificate of completion for a project House on the Rock was doing for computer schools. That’s fair. I don’t get though how we can attempt to mention all the Captains of Industry attending Experience – they must have been legion. And Nollywood actors and actresses “insert eye roll smiley”. The worst thing is the more time away we took from the concert acts, the crowd on the stands got loud and rowdy and it took some time to calm them down.
Experience was a big event. A great event that unites in music and worship – and the people attending don’t just go to watch, it is hands lifted to the Almighty. PAstor Paul Adefarasin carved a worship experience that’s truly remarkable in many ways. To God be the Glory for the things He has done.