The night I rocked Lagos

It was an evening in November in 2003
I was staying in a hotel in Lagos on my way to Abuja for business
Jetlagged in the sweltering heat and humidity
I found I couldn’t sleep, or read or relax in that dizzyness

So I went down to the hotel bar
and ordered an ice-cold beer
They sell them in litre bottles, Nigeria’s classic: Star
Uncomfortable as I was, I felt strangely cheered.

I heard music coming from the pool courtyard
and went outside to have a look
a 3-piece live band was doing easy-listening hard
with a bit of an Ebo twist to book

The singer called me to the stage, invited me to sing
For a moment I was hesitant
But I felt I had to go, I was drawn by something,
it may have been the beer you understand.

“I can’t sing the things you do”
“That’s okay, just tell us what you need”
“Give me a standard blues riff” I said,
And to the drummer: “Just back me up till my vocal cords bleed”.

I looked at the little audience, and I felt the surge I’d heard about
the essence of their straining ears waiting for the chords, I wanted to rock.
So I reached for a song that I knew by heart,
Back then the themesong of my life, and shouted: “Johnny used to work on the docks !”

As I worked my way through chorus and verse
there was an energized feeling all round
people were clapping and there were cheers
and lot who were staring like it was somehow profound.

This wasn’t a culture where rock had taken root
this was perhaps the first hairmetal ever to be heard there
I felt a sense of pride, like an ambasador
People were rocking, and they were listening to me.

I will never be a rockstar, I’ve made my peace with that long ago
my voice is craggy and I can’t play an instrument
And I’m pushing thirty and trends I don’t follow
But just for one night, I could feel how it felt

When you jam with a band and you let yourself go
and people are rocking out with you
even if, until then, it was something they didn’t know
Just for one night, I was a rockstar too.

Just for one night, just for one song
I felt liberated and alive
This was rock, you can’t do it wrong
The night I rocked Lagos – live.

I’ll always remember the feeling
When the song ended and the singer said “I’ve never felt anything like this”
The night I rocked Lagos,
was a night I will always treasure, and sometimes miss