Davido: MSG Debut Concert: A Timeless Party

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Davido had his debut performance at the Madison Square Garden in New York City on April 17th, as part of his Timeless tour. He came to have a party and a party we got. When I went to see the Grammy-nominated artist perform, I was not expecting him to have the same level of production and precision of execution as the likes of Beyoncé of this world. But what I was expecting was high energy and a party-like atmosphere, and that is exactly what he delivered.

Davido on April 17th, 2024 at The Madison Square Garden in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept / Instagram)

I will start by discussing stage production and set design. This is one of those things that I will always judge an artist by whenever they have a concert. The quality of stage production helps us understand how creative, thoughtful and strategic thinkers an artist’s team can be.

Davido and his team did an amazing job of designing a well thought-out stage and incorporating props that enhanced the overall artistic experience of the set. The two components that worked well with the stage production for this performance were props and having a non-stationary strategy to stage presence. For stage props, Davido had a NYC subway cart with the silver color that it’s known for, and on that cart you had various symbols that reflected his identity and paid homage to the city that never sleeps. The train had the letter “D” signifying “Davido,” the station was titled “MS Garden” with the subway being called “Timeless Subway City” a nod to his Timeless Tour, and he had the Nigerian and American flags on the train cart which reflect his duo-nationality, he also had 0001 as the number of the train which was a way of incorporating his signature “001” brand asset.

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept, @dvxglobal, @foureyes.media / Instagram)

The second component of stage production that worked well was the high utilization of space within the arena to create three different stages. There was the main stage, with the classic T-shape in the front of the arena, then you had a backstage on the floor that Davido used when introducing us to the second part of his set, then you had him embed himself in the crowd within one of the sections closest to the main stage when introducing us to his third and last part of the concert. This allowed Davido to not be stuck on just one stationary stage, his team had a strategy of maximizing the utilization of the large space within the arena. The one thing that they should have considered doing was to have an elongated mainstage that extended well into a third of the floor length. Davido is an extremely active performer who is comfortable having close physical proximity with his fans, so an elongated stage would have given him more stage room to utilize. 

Going into the performance review, I would like to first point out the fact that there were some audio issues that took place throughout the concert. The audio engineer did not give us their best performance, we had instances of low sound quality and times where we just out-right could not hear the artist’s mic. I was a bit shocked to see this happen, being that this was Davido’s first concert at MSG and would have assumed that his audio engineer team would have been on top of everything. 

Besides that, I will get right into the set list and talk about the things that did go well. I split the set into three parts, each corresponding to the chronological order of performances, as well as depicting the various themes that accompanied each of those parts.

The first part of Davio’s set mainly featured his classic and throwback catalog.

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @deedsmagazine, @noemadnyc, @shakes_jr / Instagram)

He opened the concert with “Over Dem” which is his intro track in the Timeless album, but he quickly transitioned into some of his classic tunes like, Dami Duro, Skelewu, Aye and more. Dami Duro is the song that put Davido on the scene, so it has such a powerful symbolic nostalgic effect. Aye is definitely a track that I was praying he would perform, as that is a defining song of his that is also a Nigerian and African anthem. It truly is a timeless song that will leave on forever.

This first part of the set was all about catering to his day one fans, those who knew Davido from the early 2010s. What I also loved about this set is that it became an educational moment for the newer fans as they got a taste of what Afrobeats used to sound like in its earlier days. 

The second part of the set was dedicated to special guests

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept / Instagram)

Davido brought out special guests from the likes of Young Jonn, Teni, The Caveman, Fave, Zlatan, Stonebwoy, Fabulous and more. These guests were individuals who Davido had either collaborated with in the past, he wanted to celebrate and others who are New Yorkers whom he brought them out as an homage to the city. 

Davido is known for always having a roster of special guests during his concerts and that is a feature of his that fans love and keeps them excited when attending one of his performances. I think that speaks to Davido's heart and that he is an artist that loves collaboration, supporting and celebrating his fellow colleagues.

I have to shout out a few of the guest performances. Young Jonn was an absolutely amazing performer. He had great stage presence, knew how to command a crowd, and was very active in his movements. I would definitely like to see him at his own individual concert in the future. 

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept / Instagram)

Teni was another great guest performer. I have always been a big fan of Teni since she dropped her hit single “For Your Case.” And she is known for her theatrical and antics filled personality, and she brought that to the forefront with her cowboy outfit. She even at one point pulled Davido over to grab her waist, and had him spin her around illustrating the level of theatrics that Teni brings to a performance. What was even more beautiful was seeing her perform with Davido, for whom she had written his hit song “Like that.”

Fave’s performance was another one that I liked, although it at times got overshadowed by constant mic audio issues. That was definitely a disservice to Fave, because when her mic was on we got to hear what a powerful vocalist she is and got to witness her artistic capabilities shine. Davido and Fave performed their joint track “Kante'' from the Timeless album. 

The third and last part of the set was mostly dedicated to his most popular tracks from the Timeless Album as well as other hit singles from past projects. 

This part began with Davido popping up in the middle of one of the sections surrounded by concert goers, and was accompanied by an inspiring monologue of an audio talking about how legends never die, then we transitioned right into his track “LCND.” The lights on the main stage lit up in blue with fog that reflected that color, then Davido gave an extremely emotional and soulful performance of this track. His background singers took us to church with their heavenly gospel-like vocals that resembled a worship song on an Easter sunday. You could feel the chills go through the arena, as we all were captivated by the emotions depicted within the song and exuding from the performance. 

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept, @shotbyrimaz / Instagram)

From there, Davido transitioned back onto the main stage and gave us an acapella-like rendition of his song “Jawo.” This was another powerful and emotionally heavy performance. His performance incorporated a breathtaking saxophone solo act that left the audience in astonishment, earning an astounding applause and standing ovation from the crowd. 

He ended the concert with five uptempo and energetic tracks, from Away, High (feature with Adekunle Gold), Champion Sound (feature with Focalistic), Feel and ended the performance with Unavailable. Throughout these last tracks, the audience was on their feet dancing along. His dancers left the best dance routines for these songs and the sheer electric musicality of his band, The Compozers, was out of this world. When Unavailable came on, there was not a single soul in the arena that didn’t partake in the dance and it became a big party with thousands of people. 

Davido at MSG in New York City (Photo: @dukeconcept, @shotbyrimaz / Instagram)

I wanted to also point out that a lucky fan had Davido promise to give her $50k to help pay off her student loan debt; what Joe Biden may not be able to do, Davido will do for a fan. 

A day after his MSG performance, Davido and United Masters announced a partnership which will see him running his own new label called Nine+ Records under the guidance of Steve Stoute.  

Though I would have liked to see more precision and seamless flow of the set list, I would and still will go to another Davido concert. I went to Davido’s concert looking to party and let me just say that this was an African Hall party in the MSG.