A heartfelt three-minute tribute video, on Sunday, marked the return of Asake, Afrobeats act, to the UK stage for the first time since the unfortunate incident that claimed the lives of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gaby Hutchinson.
The pair tragically lost their lives in a crowd surge outside the O2 Academy Brixton last December.
Asake’s London come-back on Sunday evening featured a poignant performance by a skilled poet, dedicated to Rebecca and Gaby. The tribute video concluded with a plea to the public for any information related to the incident to be shared with the authorities.
Rebecca, aged 33, and security guard Gaby, aged 23, met their untimely demise during the crowd commotion that marred Asake’s inaugural UK gig on December 15, 2022.
The Metropolitan Police’s investigation into the incident is still ongoing, and the O2 Academy Brixton has remained shuttered since that fateful night, as Lambeth Council reviews its licensing status.
In a compassionate display of remembrance, Asake’s fans patiently awaited his arrival on Sunday night at the O2 Arena, despite a delay of an hour and twenty minutes. The event began with a touching three-minute tribute poem performed by poet Aina More, paying homage to the lives lost.
The poet’s words, accompanied by piano melodies, resonated with emotion as they interwove with news segments chronicling the tragic event.
Aina More’s powerful verses encapsulated the somber mood, stating, “Some came out that night and ain’t returned, we need to hold this moment”. The poem poignantly reflected on the tragedy, with the verses affirming, “Up at 02:30 thinking Gaby Hutchinson could be me,” a sentiment shared by many in the audience. “Rest well and be free, rest in peace Rebecca, our sister,” Aina More’s heartfelt words rang out.
During the tribute performance, dancers adorned in white emerged onstage, carrying bouquets of white flowers. The crowd responded with heartfelt cheers when the names of the victims were mentioned, as well as at the culmination of the tribute.
Asake performing “Lonely At The Top”
Outside the venue, police officers distributed informational flyers to encourage potential witnesses to step forward and aid the ongoing investigation.
Said Rachel Otto, who had attended the ill-fated Brixton event and returned to witness Asake’s performance, as she shared her emotional connection to the tragic incident with the BBC Newsbeat: “After going to the Brixton event that was tragic, I just wanted to come back and see the artiste that I love”.
Rachel’s thoughts were with the victims’ families throughout the concert, and she encapsulated the experience as “bittersweet,” emphasising the weight of the lives lost.
Rachel expressed her hope that the unfortunate events at Brixton would catalyse improvements in concert safety. She voiced her frustration with the time taken for the investigation to conclude, stating, “I hope it’s a learning curve for everybody”.
Toye, another attendee of the Brixton gig, reflected on the emotional difficulty of revisiting the memories of that night.
Shared Toye: “I’m very sad about the events that happened there”.
Toye acknowledged the heightened security measures at Asake’s recent performance, contrasting it positively with the previous event.
Remarked he: “The organisation with that gig, it wasn’t good at all. But I see the security here is doing it properly”.
He stressed the importance of continuing to celebrate Afrobeats music after the tragedy, underlining that the genre is here to stay and could be the catalyst for positive change moving forward.
More reactions below:
Congratulations @asakemusik on selling out the 02, From Amphi theatre, OAU to O2 in London!
We are super proud of you! Apparently, if you can move a 5,000 Amphi Theatre Capacity you can shake any stage in the world. #Asake02Arena📌 pic.twitter.com/qP0v7ey12f
— Great IFE (@TheGreatestIFE) August 22, 2023
This brother is goated 🐐#Asake02Arena pic.twitter.com/1wwUwr3uxF
— MBAH (@Mbahdeyforyou) August 20, 2023
We had to give you stage view… 😅🔥🤝🏿 @asakemusik #Asake02Arena
🎥: @goddy_q pic.twitter.com/gvPEdALNtK
— The Compozers (@Compozers) August 21, 2023