Over the weekend Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium hosted one of the largest single day RnB festivals this side of the hemisphere, rivalling that of FOMO. Boasting a line-up that included Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent and Janet Jackson, the RNB Fridays live event was sure to be an exciting one. The eventing also introduced fans to some of the less well-known artists of the RnB world, such as J-Kwon and Sisqo.
Brandy was the first of the big names to arrive on the stage, and quickly drew massive attention to the front of the stage, with a growing crowd flooding down the aisles and into the heaving dance pit below. Though it was Jason Derulo that was the first act to really have people rushing into the crowd to see him up close. Those lucky enough to afford Diamond tickets were rocking the barricade on the front lines.
Derulo a frequent resident at the top of the Australian charts offered up a memorable set was, bringing the best parts of his recordings, such as “Watcha Say”, “Want To Want Me” or “1,2,3” to life alongside a raft of dancers and band members, which elevated his set into more than just a simple rundown of hits to a fully fledged performance.
It was then 50 Cent‘s turn to take to the massive make-shift stage. Representing the rap side of the contemporary RnB genre, 50 made an impressive and immediate impact. Unfortunately, for all the heat that 50 Cent brought to the stage, the set seemed to suffer from some strange mixing. Whilst this might have been rectified being closer to the stage in the pit, the bass felt overwhelming throughout his set. There were often times then that he couldn’t be heard over his DJ. That said, 50 Cent continued his set in some style. Backed by his own posse of rappers and rolling through multiple clothing changes across his forty minute set, there was always something happening on stage during his set to hold the interest.
The Black Eyed Peas drew a benevolent crowd to front of stage and while they weren’t headlining, it could easily have been one of the evening’s largest crowds. The absence of Fergie was a noticeable loss, however the vocal power and class of their new member Jessica Reynoso lessened the blow somewhat.
After many years away from the scene with their artists, such as will.i.am working on other projects, there was an obvious sense of excitement from the crowd about the group performed together. As such the set was strewn with crowd favourites like “I Gotta Feeling”, “Pump It”, “Mami” and their highly regarded single “Where Is The Love?”. It was brilliant to see the honest love between BEP and the Melbourne crowd, with will.i.am and apl.de.ap frequently regaling the crowd with stories of their previous visits to Australia.
The day was a long one and for those who had the endurance to keep going past the Black Eyed Peas there was the greatest reward in the form of Janet Jackson. A goddess of music throughout the Eighties and Nineties, Friday night’s performance was something to savour.
Sadly the sound issues from 50 Cent’s set continued here. Those in the seats would have sometimes struggled to hear the artist over the booming bass that threatened to overrun her set. Yet, the choreographed dancing and Jackson’s vocals managed to keep everything afloat. The fifty-three-year-old does not seem to have slowed down at all over her years at the top. The relative shortness of the stage time perhaps didn’t give enough credit to her distinguished back catalogue. The recording legend threw some of her biggest tracks at the Melbourne crowd, including “Together Again”, “Got ‘Til It’s Gone’, “Scream” and “Nasty”. The evening’s set list became almost a live beat of Jackson’s recording history, rolling through tracks from all eras of her recording life.
The whole night was a fantastic example of what makes RnB so good. Between the dancing, performances, and of course, the music, the crowd had a wonderful time experiencing some of the best music from some of the genre’s biggest names. Whilst it would have been good to have extended sets from some of the artists, it gave each of the artists just enough time to create a good platform to build upon their Melbourne fan base.
FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
RnB Friday continues this Friday at Brisbane’s Showgrounds before heading on to Sydney’s Giants Stadium.