RNB Vine Days at Kings Park was largely a disappointment. It’s a good example of what happens when the nostalgia circuit charges ridiculous prices for audiences to enjoy mediocre performances from artists they once held dear to our hearts.
Let’s cover some wins before diving into the specifics of each set. First, the event is BYO food which makes for an awesome opportunity to organise snacks and meals to your liking. Second, beer prices weren’t so bad. $9 for cans is pretty decent in comparison to other gigs. Third, the venue at Kings Park is wonderful, especially at magic hour as the sun sets to the west just behind the park’s lovely trees. These factors, along with Craig David’s set (more on him below), are what compelled me to reluctantly give this gig a 5 out of 10.
Yo! Mafia held down the fort in between sets. The resident DJ for RnB Fridays Live spun the same snippets of popular classic and newbie pop songs for the crowd to keep us occupied. It’s a tall order: the audience had to find something to do for the lengthy 45-minute wait period from artist to artist. Yo! Mafia certainly attacked her responsibilities with intense energy and enthusiasm.
After navigating some difficulties parking we could only hear Amerie’s performance from a distance. It’s a shame because I was really looking forward to seeing Amerie belt out her smash hit 1 Thing from the audience. Pro-tip for future shows: train or bus into town, and catch an Uber or CAT bus to the venue if possible. Rush hour traffic meant arriving late and having to walk a solid distance to the venue from where our car was parked. Granted, the event provided courtesy busses to make the commute easier.
All Saints took to the stage just as we settled onto our picnic blanket with cold beers and sandwiches in hand. Here’s a unique case of a pop group, well past its pinnacle of mainstream success, who are genuinely happy to be busting out crowd favourites, making a decent living, and getting to see the world at the same time. All four ladies donned cargo pants – a signature look for All Saints – that make you reflect on how the fashion elevated by the group has come full circle. Never Ever stole the set, though it could have done without the extended outro that added nothing to an already brilliant song. Kudos to the group for confessing that they really wanted draw out the crowd favourite for just a little bit longer.
Craig David earned the MVP award for what was turning out to be a bit of a dull night. David was flanked by a polished and animated live band who all looked really stoked to be there. The smooth music maker ploughed through a dazzling array of bangers, and wasn’t afraid to kick the set off early with hits like Walking Away and Fill Me In. After running through a few new numbers – which ultimately snoozes the crowd at any nostalgia concert – David unleashed 7 Days to roaring concertgoers.
Nelly reaffirmed a lesson I hold dear to my heart: sometimes it’s not a good idea to see your heroes in the flesh. This set was an utter disaster and it revealed how far a superstar can fall from grace, landing with a thud in perpetual mediocrity. For much of the set the rapper lazily fell back on his backing track to do the work for him. The man’s hits – Country Grammar, Batter Up, Ride Wit Me, Dilemma, and more – still get heavy rotation elsewhere, so it’s upsetting to see him barely be audible and in key to deliver a fragment of each hit to eager fans. That is the challenge of nostalgia shows where featured performers are absent: most songs barely last two minutes, and often omit the good bits. All that’s left are a first verse and chorus. I officially declared Nelly’s set dead at 10:00 pm after enduring his third straight monologue of assessing how many fans were loyal to “Nelly from day one”.
If you were on the fence about attending: perhaps you can be glad you didn’t. The sky high prices (general admission on the lawn cost a whopping $130), coupled with a plodding lineup of performers, likely would have left you feeling disappointed, too.
Photos by Linda Dunjey