The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

The UK Corner gig review: Keri Hilson @ indigO2 London

With support from UK artists RD, Angel, and Starboy Nathan, Keri Hilson was the American headliner. Despite having one arm in a cast, DJ Mars warmed up the crowd further before Hilson arrived on stage at 9.50pm to take the audience to another planet.

In this galaxy, we breathed in R&B, Hip-Hop and Electro music like it was oxygen. Hilson’s space suit was comprised of sunglasses, a silver Mac, leather hot pants and a leather bra top. Her two dancers Tia and Kayla mirror her style with the addition of kneepads. Protective gear was necessary as they attacked Hilson’s songs Gimme What I Want, Turning Me On and The Way You love Me with energy as their weaponry, and Drummer Bennie Rodgers as their accomplice.

Hilson passes the mic

Hilson encouraged her fans to “bounce” to the sounds of Atlanta Georgia grown beats as she eased into Lose Control. She quickly lost her Mac as she demonstrated her vocal prowess on Slow Dance.  Slow dance over, Hilson pressed fast-forward as she scouted for talent.

Hilson scouts for talent

Her search yielded laughs when ladies raised their hands in response to her declaration: “I’m looking for somebody right now.” Noticing the danger of her lack of clarity, she urged the ladies to lower their hands and insisted she was looking for a feller – a chocolate single feller!

28-year-old Hilson singled one out but had trouble identifying him. “Tardray? I’m gonna go with T!” But her find was in vain her female fans were having none of it and quickly began chanting: “No boys allowed” – the title of her sophomore album. Acknowledging the irony, Hilson replied, “I see you ladies, calm down – boys are good for one thing,” which seemed to appease the ladies.

Hilson steps with her dancers

The battle of the sexes over, and dazzling with an asymmetrical gold bob, bling and love from the almost sold out venue, Hilson continued on her intergalactic tour with snippets of One Night Stand and Number One. Worried in vain that the audience could hear the microphone feedback as she did, she asked the engineers to “kill the reverb.”

But nothing disrupted the quality of Hilson’s expressive performance. Some have argued that she echoes Aaliyah or Ciara, but on this night, Hilson shone like a star in a style that was distinctly hers. Though her link to songs such as Got Your Back may have been a tad cliché, the quality of her material, such as my favourite Bahm Bahm (Do It Once Again) / I Want You, which earned its rewind, made up for the script.

Hilson's vocals strike the right note

Surprises added to the freshness of the gig most notably when one of the many male musicians Hilson has duetted with, Chipmunk, joined her on stage for In The Air. But the party continued without him as Hilson, who has just been appointed as an ambassador for the MTV Staying Alive Foundation, slipped into Turn My Swag On before taking a break.

Generously, we were transported to Miami with the sounds of Pitbull and the throwing of beach balls before Hilson reappeared to perform ‘Til We Get It Right, I like and her favourite songs from her debut album In a Perfect World and sophomore follow-up  – Lose control/Let Me Down, Energy and Hustler.

In the spotlight Hilson’s raspy voice sizzled on Beautiful Mistake. As if we weren’t drunk on the vocal delivery, she questioned those without drinks in their hands. Far from sobering things up, Hilson continued to create addicts out of her audience selling the sounds of fun with Get Your Money Up – the Biggie Get Money mix. The sounds were now full length and the audience got to hear every last drop of Buyou.

Boys were excluded as Hilson stood centre stage

But there were two tracks that the crowd awaited. While X Factor finalists such as Misha B and Janet sat in the VIP lounge, Hilson called her own VIPs to the stage dismissing the pretenders who answered her call. It was a saccharine moment when the young girls joined her to sing and dance to Pretty Girl Rock.

Hilson declared the song was about interior beauty and self esteem. Insisting she was not male bashing, she switched pace with All The Boys. She couldn’t leave the stage aware that she was ‘forgetting’ to perform the Grammy nominated Knock You Down. It was a memorable night for both sexes and if men are as Martian as her DJ, Hilson proved that Venus rocks!

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The UK Corner concert review: Naughty by Nature and Ice Cube @ Indigo2

You never quite know what to expect from a Hip-Hop gig. Indigo2 had intense security. I wasn’t quite dressed for any raucous behaviour wearing sandals, but luckily, my feet escaped injury in the testosterone filled environment. This was the perfect playground for New Jersey’s reunited Naughty by Nature, who came to party!

Vin Rock

Vin Rock



The Grammy Award-winning trio performed all their hits including the infectious O.P.P. Amid the old school revival, they paid homage to their peers across genres when DJ Kay Gee (who brought us Koffee Brown and also worked with Zhane and Next), played DMX’s Up In Here, House of Pain’s Jump Around, B.O.B ft. Bruno Mars’ Nothin On You and Snoop and Pharrell’s Beautiful. Such was the diversity of the 2,400 strong audience — a mixture of races, ages and genders.

Treach and Vin Rock were on full form embracing role-play to excite the crowd. Tracks such as Craziest, a reworking of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry – Everything’s Gonna be All Right and It’s On, only added more fuel to the fire. Celebrating their 20 year anniversary; Naughty by Nature were keen to perform new material Flags and to plug their social media platforms, but the crowd were 100% invested in a live interaction with the Hip-Hop veterans.

The good vibes continued with Jamboree and Clap Yo Hands before Treach sipped on some Courvoisier while resisting chants to ‘down it.’ Soberly, Treach paid homage to Tupac who he acted alongside in Juice. Looking at his tattoo on his left arm he performed Hail Mary/Mourn You Till I Join You, which he wrote after Tupac died. Ashes to Ashes, Tupac’s California Love and a tribute to Biggie followed this while Treach warned about the dangers of allowing external forces into friendships.

But things turned ugly when Treach angrily reacted to a member of the audience who he alleged had given him the finger all night. After offering to replace the towel on the man’s face with his underpants, Treach calmed down and tipped his hat to the UK’s Slick Rick with a rendition of We Like to Party. Ending with their hits Feel Me Flow and Hip-Hop Hooray, they departed the stage.

Ice cube

Ice cube

It would take a special act to fill the vacuum they left. But despite the sound of his name, Ice Cube, 42, had not come to douse the flames of entertainment. Arriving to Issac Hayes’ Theme From Shaft, he was every bit blaxploitation with his mini Afro and Afro pick! If his words didn’t emphasize that he was representing’ the Westside, the glittery Ws on his shirt made the statement. The glitter extended to his trainers and he sparkled in his role as entertainer.

Alongside DJ Crazy Toones and rapper WC, he took the audience back to 1989, the days of NWA and beyond. Classics such as Straight out of Compton, Hello, Jack N The Box, Natural Born Killazs, Check Your Self, Why We Thugs, Can You Bounce, Smoke Some Weed, You Can Do It, Bow Down, Life In California, Go to Church and Bop Gun transcended time. His crip walking completed the gangster theme to the evening. With his expertise in acting, directing and producing, Ice Cube executed the show well, commandeering the stage with perfect timing and dramatically finishing tracks with each one punctuated by darkness.

Ice cube

Ice cube disturbing the peace

On a lighter note rapper WC performed a great track from his album Revenge of the Barracuda. While that was well received, the audience did not take too kindly to talk of a gig at Cardiff the previous night. While Ice Cube sung London’s praises, he asked his DJ how he was feeling explaining that his mood dictated the quality of music he would spin. When It Was A Good Day came on; the crowd knew DJ Loony Tunes was as elated as they were.

Having come on stage slightly late, Ice Cube was annoyed when he was asked to finish but defiantly, he performed two more tracks. The first She Couldn’t Make it On Her Own featured his son Doughboy (The name of Ice Cube’s Boyz n the Hood character, the  iconic film which celebrated it’s 20 year anniversary on 12 July) AKA Darryl, who is featured on his last album, I Am the West, and the second, Gangsta Nation, a tribute to the late Nate Dogg.

Leaving in the same style with which he arrived, Ice Cube’s closing theme song was The O’Jays’ Back Stabbers. While he offered to sign CDs and T-shirts in the back, ironically the audience was led out of a side door. But memories beat mementos; on their highly anticipated return to UK shores, these legends did Hip-Hop proud.

Copyright © 2011 The UK Corner. All Rights Reserved.

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The UK Corner concert review: J Holiday and Ginuwine @ indigo2

In her black and silver unitard, Nigerian singing sensation May7ven (AKA Yemisi May Odegbami) and her trio of backing dancers were the only females to grace the indigo2 stage. With May7ven, who performed Number and Hands Up as supporting act, perhaps it was no coincidence that her business partner DJ Abrantee was the compere for the night. The boisterous host mostly kept the crowd onside apart from insulting those standing with jibes about being too cheap to reserve seats!

But those downstairs were most excited when J Holiday arrived on stage. Looking casual, Holiday sang You Should Be With Me and Back Of My Lac over backing tracks mixed by his DJ. Not for the first time in the night there was a tribute to Jodeci with Freak You. But Holiday struggled to take the audience back in time alongside his attempt to capture their attention in the present moment.


J Holiday

J Holiday

Without Holiday taking full advantage of his space, there was too much room for his entourage to distract. To the side were no less than three videographers of some description capturing personal footage.

His hype man was humorous as he mimed and wandered around the stage. He took initiative to grab posters from the audience for Holiday to autograph. But he was also responsible for launching the ‘missiles’, which flew into the audience and provoked desperate fans to fight over sweaty towels!

Singing the virtues of smoking, Holiday 27, attempted an ‘acoustic’ moment – over synthesised beats he sang Hydro and a snippet of Musical Youth’s Pass The Dutchie. Young girls buzzed as he teased them with a partial strip to the sounds of Mary Jane, before premiering the first live performance of Suffocate but the finale was most anticipated; his biggest hit Put You To Bed.




The audience was far from ready to sleep. While some scurried off to fulfill earlier Twitter requests for pictures with J Holiday; the rest of the crowd eagerly awaited Ginuwine. But the wait was elongated by the presence of Ricky Rush The Rook (and a third singer who shall remain nameless because the DJ came in too soon and an irritated Ginuwine did not have enough time to complete his name check) who sang R. Kelly’s Bump and Grind as they attempted to arouse the crowd. Despite their low mics they performed powerful harmonies.

Kicking off with Same Old G, Ginuwine wanted the fans to know that nothing had changed. From Stingy to Hell Yeah he displayed the same vocal prowess and visual enchantment, which has anchored his place in music over the last fifteen years.

Effortlessly, he worked the stage challenging the ladies to profess their love for him, but when their exclamations failed to meet the grade, he walked off. Back in all white, he launched into None Of Your Friends Business followed by So Anxious.



Ginuwine thrills

He reprised Jodeci’s Freak You, which then morphed into Those Jeans. Ginuwine’s set was short but sweet as a promotional vehicle for his latest album Elgin. He performed a cut from it – Drink of Choice – that in his own words ‘did not do what he had wanted’, but Ginuwine was understanding as he noticed that few people in the audience knew the lyrics.

Before departing the stage, Ginuwine acknowledged personal triumphs and tragedies – the subject of his new reality show, before paying tribute to the man who inspired his career – Michael Jackson!

Once he had his special white and gold trainers, the DJ played The Way You Make Me Feel, Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough and Billie Jean while Ginuwine danced and mimed. He continued the party vibes with his biggest hit Pony and left the audience riding on a wave of nostalgia. Though few embraced his offer of paying £5 to take a picture with him, Ginuwine still paints a portrait of an underrated performer.

Copyright © 2011 The UK Corner. All Rights Reserved.

posted by The UK Corner in Music and have Comments (9)

The UK Corner concert review: Fantasia @ Indigo2

Following PAs by Cherri V, Raymond & Co and Cynthia Erivo, at 9.45pm, fans may have feared that Fantasia wasn’t going to provide value for money but her set made the hour and 15 minutes that she was on stage seem elastic.

In an understated summer dress, Fantasia left the little black dress to her backing singer and kicked off her shoes though she temporarily left on her bling. Her comfortable look may fuel rumours that she is pregnant, but the way she bounced around the stage until her petticoat was showing may suggest otherwise.

Opening the set with Free Yourself followed by Man of The House, Fantasia soon had the crowd energised. With her warm and humorous girl next door attitude, Fantasia gibed about the security railings which separated the fans from the stage saying that she had threatened to walk off stage the last time she saw them.

She was in no mood for distance as she launched in the Motown tinged Collard Greens and Cornbread. This only got the crowd hungry for more of her heartfelt soul. Her facial expressions alone proved how much passion Fantasia was putting into her performance.



iPads and mobile phones tried to capture the moments but Fantasia has talent that is uncontainable. I entered the gig not knowing what to expect. Being impressed by her first two albums and her performance on American Idol, after all the gossip I’d seen about her online, I had forgotten what had made her famous.

What was special about her set was the sprinkling of odes to the music she had a personal connection with. From fragments of SWV’s Rain to Missy’s I Can’t Stand the Rain. This meteorological theme may symbolise the torrential weathering that Fantasia has endured.

But as in life Fantasia played on emotionally singing autobiographical material such as I’m His Only Woman through trembling lips. Fantasia came determined to satisfy all extremes of her diverse audience so it should perhaps be no surprise that she performed Prince’s Kiss. This was the perfect soundtrack to her jamming session and reason enough to kick off her shoes.

With the party truly started, she continued with her own material including the popular When I See You. Acknowledging those in the audience who like to be coy in showing their appreciation, Fantasia was underscored by her first cousins K-Ci and JoJo’s Get On Up, which was mixed with Overnight Scenario. This was followed by a snippet of Soul II Soul’s Back to Life.


Fantasia goes all out!

Fantasia’s vocals were superb and all the more uplifting to hear knowing she had survived a tumour on her vocal cords. Despite the odd sound problem, she shined as she continued with Teach Me and more jokes! She easily built a rapport with the crowd who were moved by her stirring rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, which was all too short.

But Fantasia has her own quality material to perform not least the Grammy award winning Bittersweet, which won her the Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance this year. Having arrived on stage with Grammy in hand, Fantasia had set the tone for an outstanding night.

Before the night was out she promised to take the audience to church and with I’m Doing Me, she did, after proclaiming that she no longer lives her life for folk! Her songs take on quite the confessional edge and she professed that she did not need a microphone as she gave her testimony. She really brought the house down when with a tearful and spine-tingling rendition of Even Angels.

To warm us up, Fantasia took us back to her first album to get up-tempo. Though she professed that the men in the audience may not like the song, she committed to her performance of Baby mama to the delight of the women in the audience. Perhaps to win the men back over, she sought a man to hold her, but when the offers came in she shied away saying she was ‘scarred’!


All eyes on Ms Barrino

She briefly went back to her Idol days with a too short performance of Summertime but as a silver lining to this cloud, her next song was the hit single Hood Boy. Having earlier hinted to her opposition to being separated from her fans, Fantasia got off stage to take photos and sing directly in front of the first row.

This was a polished set; Fantasia’s only failing was that she did not name check her extensive band featuring (two male and one female) backing singers, two keyboardists, a drummer, a guitarist, a trumpeter and a saxophonist, who like sorcerers, further fuelled the magic.

Copyright © 2011 The UK Corner. All Rights Reserved.

posted by The UK Corner in Music and have Comments (15)