RnB Fridays Live @nib Stadium
w/ Usher, Salt n Pepa, Trey Songz, Taio Cruz, Eve, Lil Jon, Naughty by Nature Ginuwine, Estelle, Next, Fatman Scoop
Friday, November 9, 2018
My friends didn’t believe me when I told them about the lineup of performers I’d be seeing on Friday evening at nib Stadium for the Perth stop of RnB Fridays Live.
Surely, you’re going to a raucous DJ night, right?
Nope. I really was going to see Eve, Salt n Pepa, Trey Songz, Usher, and Lil Jon in the flesh.
Only three things made me yank a couple of points off from my rating of this show. First was the 3pm start. I couldn’t make it from the beginning and regret missing Estelle, NEXT, Naughty by Nature (pictured above), Taio Cruz; but most importantly, Ginuwine, to see him perform his iconic Pony. Second, the lengthy beer lines that snaked and zig-zagged all around the stadium. My mate stood patiently with me as we waited for the wonderful nectar of mid-strength beer. Third, each act essentially played a medley of their hits, cutting the track for the next before really getting to the meat of the music. I’m talking one verse, a chorus, and then done. DJ sets in between performers did the same (in fact the music was sped up), and it sometimes killed the joyous vibe before it could even take off.
Beyond that I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
What made it for me was the lovely sunset and warmer than usual early November evening. The rowdy but incredibly friendly crowd throwing their hands up in the air, bobbing up and down, even breaking out into breakdance circles to familiar tracks. I got to celebrate a birthday for my girlfriend’s best mate. She absolutely adores the acts who performed on this evening. T-Pain was sorely missed: the godfather of auto-tune bowed out of the Perth event due to a death in the family, but Usher and Lil Jon picked up the slack by extending their joint set of bangers.
We arrived to the show as Eve seduced the crowd in the coolest look I’ve seen in a while. The tough-nosed rapper sauntered around the stage with a platinum blonde bob, large silver shades, and a fluro pink get-up with just enough skin to show off her signature paw tattoos inked on either side of her chest. Eve blazed through hits, even the mega ones, like Rich Girl and Let Me Blow Ya Mind sans Gwen Stefani, but flanked by a crew of equally bright and popping backup dancers clad in fluro green.
Fatman Scoop made a brief but energetic appearance from the DJ tower setup in the middle of the stadium. Scoop rallied the crowd into a frenzy before stripping of his shirt and asking the crowd to follow him on Instagram.
I hope I can have a lasting BFF relationship like Salt-N-Pepa decades into my life and career. The duo’s set was all nostalgia: a running homage to East Coast rappers who they socialized with in the 80s and 90s (Biggie, Biz Markie), and a continued call-to-arms for their seductive and oft-times down right dirty and sexualized set (Push It, Let’s Talk About Sex). Salt-N-Pepa are no holds barred, and are very willing to profess their love for all things sexual. I truthfully teared up at the fabulous display of gratitude the group heaped onto the crowd for supporting the ladies through a three decades long music career. Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, Lil Kim, and scores of other artists owe a lot to the groundbreaking music Salt-N-Pepa began to release over 30 years ago. The duo helped lay the foundation for generations of proud female artists who would continue to add stories to the tower of hip hop.
Trey Songz had to be the freshest performer in the line up given his first major release was only 10 years ago. Trey’s set was all about “the ladies”. ‘Mr. Steal Your Girl’ used every moment possible to lay his smooth, butter like charm onto the massive audience. I was impressed to see him perform Can’t Help But Wait, Slow Motion, and Heartache with a full live band. Trey’s backing band really gave the set an authentic RnB feel when other artists opted to perform with backing tracks. He is clearly hoping to carry the crown forward as Usher’s successor.
Usher & Lil Jon stormed the stage to a wild crowd ready to throw down. The Atlanta based homies shared a fantastically long set (due to T-Pain’s departure) full of crowd favourites. Usher opened up to the cascading synth keys of Love In This Club and then twirled or side-shuffled his way through his songbook of velvety, creamy love songs. Ladies and gents melted to Burn, Confession Part II, and U Got It Bad to name a few.
Lil Jon squeezed in to remind us all that this was still a party, and guided the enthusiastic crowd through smash club hits like Snap Yo Fingers before teaming back up with Usher to sweep the crowd into Yeah! Highlights from this set included Lil Jon’s attempt to get a few thousand people to figure out which way was the window, and which one was the wall. Lastly, seeing the mother of a teenage parent jump up and down while screaming “Shots! Shots! Shots!” was certainly an additional highlight. nib Stadium lost its mind when Turn Down For What? blared through the speakers.
Even with my late arrival, I managed to take in close to five hours of solid music and entertainment. I’ve read reports that audiences in Melbourne are demanding refunds for what has been called a terrible live show. I certainly didn’t see that in Perth on Friday night. What I experienced was a no fuss evening of a few thousand people getting to reminisce over old hits, or a new generation getting to enjoy them for the very first time.
Photos by Adrian Thomson