Like Beatlemania in the 1960s, Afrobeatsmania is at an all-time high, and pantheons Wizkid and Burna Boy are riding that wave to Rockstar level superstardom. On August 15, 1965, The Beatles redefined concerts, performing in New York’s Shea Stadium to 55,000 rapturous fans.
It would mark the first musical concert to be held in a stadium. At that time, sceptics referred to it as a curious aberration, and they were right to. How do you sell out a 55,000-capacity arena for a 55-minute show? For more context, the population of Lagos in 1965 was about a million, the population of San Marino today is about 36,000; The Beetles had nearly double the population of an entire country singing and wailing at their feet. That is the power that music has over us.
In case you missed it, like The Beatles in 1965, Wizkid and Burna Boy are set to headline their first and Afrobeats’ first stadium concerts later this year. While Burna Boy’s concert will hold on June 3 at the London Stadium in England, Wizkid’s will hold at the recently constructed Tottenham Hotspur stadium in the same London (date: TBC). Both stadiums have the individual capacity to take up to 60,000 people.
Just in case you wonder why rock music is closely associated with stadiums? The success of The Beatles’ 1965 exploit had a significant part to play–apart from rock’s spirited and possessive synths, and quality sound engineering and production, of course. The same enchanting synths have helped propel Afrobeats somewhere near more established global mainstream genres: pop, rock, and R&B.
However, while it remains to be seen whether Wiz and Burna will match or exceed The Beatle’s New York’s Shea attendance, their antecedents–sold out 20,000-plus capacity arenas in the past–affirm their credibility to pull of such a monumental feat. Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam; o2, London; Maddisson Square Garden, New York; Wembley Arena, London; these high-profile event centres have been sold out by either Burna or Wizkid in the build-up to this switch up.
Indeed, if Wizkid and Burna Boy respectively manage to pull off selling out the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the London Stadium, it will cement their legacy as Rockstar level superstars; not just Afrobeats pioneers or deities, but global pantheons, who achieved the ultimate and highly elusive stadium status.