You know (and love) that moment during a show when the first few bars of the act’s biggest hit begin to play, and the crowd goes absolutely mental? Try squashing dozens of those into a can and keeping the lid on.
On Friday night that weird and wonderful sensation spread across an entire arena: Hisense belted in sync, the melodies took control of corporeal reality and the energy was turned up to max as Nelly, TLC, Mýa, 112, Blu Cantrell and the other esteemed stars of this R’n’B party raised the roof.
With minimal time for each performance, each act could only play their biggest hits – which turned out to be one phenomenal concept, with each of them curating a lasting impression during their allotted timeframe.
Dante Thomas’ California Girl kicked off the groovy vibes, followed by Kevin Lyttle’s Turn Me On and Tempted To Touch; after that was Fatman Scoop’s high-powered set featuring Be Faithful. Between sets, DJ Horizon spun top 30 R’n’B tracks that had everyone singing along and dancing like there was no tomorrow.
Blu Cantrell’s enormous voice ensured Hit ‘Em Up Style (Oops!) and Breathe were stand-outs of the night, before Blackstreet took over – and boy do they know how to work a crowd. Between passing out roses and showing off some brilliant ‘90s style boyband moves, they performed Don’t Leave Me and Before I Let You Go before ending with – what else? – No Diggity.
Entering the stage with an intro from Flavor Flav, Montell Jordan teased with a small part of This Is How We Do It, eventually dropping the full version after Somethin’ 4 Da Honeyz and Get It On Tonight. Miss Mýa absolutely stunned us with the whole shebang: singing and dancing galore. Her set comprised Case Of The Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do), Ghetto Superstar, My Love Is Like… Wo and Lady Marmalade.
112 gave beautiful performances of Dance With Me, It’s Over Now and Only You before everyone went absolutely bonkers for I’ll Be Missing You. TLC astounded all, sounding like a couple of angelic aliens with their odd but captivating voices. It was easy to tell that they could have gone for much longer; after Creep, Red Light Special, Unpretty, No Scrubs and Waterfalls (dedicated to the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes) we were still screaming for more.
Just when it looked like the crowd had lost its energy, Nelly perked them right back up with his intro track E.I.. He continued to parade the stage with massive hits Country Grammar (Hot…), Ride Wit Me, Hey Porsche, The Fix (Sexual Healing), Hot In Herre and his swansong Just A Dream. But it was Dilemma that turned up the heat, as he let everyone take over Kelly Rowland’s final chorus; the musician had a huge smile on his dial as we sang “Nelly I…love you and I… need you.”
The slogan “Australia’s Biggest RNB Party” is no joke. After five and a half hours of music, it felt like we’d all ran a marathon but would be first in line to do it all again. Despite the odd venue choice (the sound come off as a bit metallic and a very loud airhorn that was constantly blasting, even during the performances), it was indeed the party of the year.
But hey, if you didn’t make it this time around, you’ll be happy to know that RNB Fridays Live will be returning in 2017 – who are you hoping to see on the list?