Concert Review: Jidenna at The Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto

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Jidenna at The Phoenix Concert Theatre

Currently midway through his 85 To Africa Tour, Jidenna returned to Toronto to perform for just his second time in the city. He is coming off of releasing his sophomore album earlier this year, also titled 85 To Africa, and after performing a short, mid-card set at the 2017 Manifesto Festival, he’d return to do his own headlining show in front of a sold-out Phoenix Concert Theatre. Even late into the evening, the line to get inside still stretched down the block, and we’d arrive to a completely packed house just as Jidenna was beginning his set.

With a colourful stage design including crates and plants meant to capture some of his Nigerian culture, Jidenna would get the crowd moving right away,  performing songs off the new album like “Worth The Weight” and of course the title track. He would be backed by a live band, and the live instrumentation gave these upbeat songs extra energy to get the crowd vibing. After performing the throwback fan favourite “Long Live The Chief,” Jidenna would take some time to talk to the crowd about his roots, where a lot of his sound and style comes from.

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Continuing on with the afrobeat vibes, Jidenna would keep the crowd moving as he performed all the singles off the new album: “Tribe,” “Sou Sou,” “Zodi,” and “Sufi Woman.” He would jump down into the crowd to rap amongst the people at times, shouting out some of the fly gear his fans wore, and keeping the party energy high. Between the new joints, he’d also sprinkle in some throwbacks off of his 2017 debut album, The Chief, strictly rocking the upbeat party songs like “Little Bit More” and “Bambi.”

The crowd would dance and sing along to the catchy new joints like “Vaporiser,” “Jungle Fever,” and “Babouche,” as Jidenna seamlessly went from rapping to singing, and would occasionally get behind the keyboard.  Things would get extra turned up as Jidenna rocked a throwback for the day-one fans, going back to his Grammy-nominated single “Classic Man.” He would cap off his set with one last high-energy track, performing the bar-driven freestyle track “2 Points.” The crowd still had a lot of energy though, as the entire building chanted for an encore.

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While Jidenna is known to dress up in fancy gear, he was simply rocking a t-shirt for this performance similar to how he appears on the 85 To Africa album cover, as he was ready to party and get up close and personal with the crowd. He would return through the back entrance, kicking off his encore performance by running through the back of the crowd as he performed “The Let Out,” rapping amongst the people as he made his way back to the stage. Having performed most of the new album, he would cap off the evening by rocking the last two songs to make this a complete performance of 85 To Africa. A real ladies man, Jidenna would go topless and play guitar as he performed the romantic “The Other Half,” and closed out his set with the calming “Pretty & Afraid.”

This was all fun times overall, as Jidenna really came out and touched the people with his performance. He went all out for his first headlining show in Toronto, putting everything into his performance as he showcased his rapping, singing, and his ability to play keys and guitar while nailing his vocals. While he did perform his entire 85 To Africa album, I would’ve liked to see more songs off of The Chief get performed like “Chief Don’t Run” and “Helicopters” (which was an epic track at his Manifesto 2017 set), but can see he strategically picked out only his positive party records to keep things fun.

Jidenna’s 85 To Africa Tour continues through the U.S., as this Toronto show was the last of his Canadian dates.

 

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