We sent Brad along to check out the superstar line-up of RNB Fridays Live 2017. And he sent back this review.
RNB Fridays Live returned for its second year proving that the Hit Network, Illusive Presents and Frontier Touring can throw one hell of a party!
Following up on last year’s headliners Nelly, TLC and Mya, alumni performer Fatman Scoop played host to a mammoth TEN artists including the incredible Kelly Rowland, Craig David, Kelis, Ne-Yo and Sean Paul.
The jam-packed lineup was supported by DJ Horizon who ran a countdown of thirty RNB hits that ensured we danced up a storm at Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena on Thursday night.
Living up to its name as “Australia’s biggest RNB party”, it unfortunately proved to be ‘too big’ of a show for Thursday, with the seven hour set from 5pm seeing a large portion of the crowd missing at the start and ends of the show due to work commitments.
But it didn’t stop us from celebrating an all-out throwback to our childhood.
Proving the adage that ‘black don’t crack’, I was pleasantly surprised to see that none of the artists looked like they have aged a day in twenty years!
Superstars Monifah and Christina Milian looked hotter than ever as they tore up their sets to a half capacity arena before 6pm.
Declaring “I can still get down bish!”, Monifah entertained the crowd in a shiny black jumpsuit and six-inch stilettos as her 1998 smash single begged the question ‘do you really wanna touch it?’.
Rocking a sparkly gold dress, Christina Milian took us back 15 years with her memorable hits ‘AM to PM’ and ‘When You Look At Me’, before teaching us all how to ‘Dip It Low’ and pick it up slow.
Whilst I wish she had performed the under-appreciated ‘Us Against The World’, her sexy set wrapped up with the Stafford Brothers-assisted ‘Hello’, reminding us why it was a triple platinum hit in 2013.
Baby faced Mario then performed a quick 15 minute set which provided the much-needed Usher vibes as he sang his R&B gems ‘Stuttering’, ‘Just A Friend’ and ‘Let Me Love You’.
En Vogue followed as a reformed trio and treated us to their timeless hits ‘Free Your Mind’, ‘Whatta Man’ and ‘Hold On’. Considered one of the best female vocal groups of all time, a highlight of the night was when the whole crowd sang along to their 1996 hit ‘Don’t Let Go’. ’90s nostalgia, we love ya!
In between each set, Fatman Scoop and radio personality Ash London would host whilst DJ Horizon pumped out the station’s Top 30 RNB bangers. While sometimes these breaks would get too silly – i.e. Fatman Scoop try to twerk along with ten girls from the crowd – my favourite was when 2DayFM host Em Rusciano joined the duo in support of same sex marriage to play Macklemore’s ‘Same Love’.
In another break, Fatman Scoop blasted his party anthem ‘Be Faithful’ and DJ Horizon completed the countdown (Usher’s ‘Yeah’ taking the top spot). Considering its heavy use of the crunk/hip-hop style, I was confused as to how it could be the number one RNB song whilst we danced along.
The incredibly talented Kelis followed En Vogue around about the same time as the venue FINALLY met full capacity. One could say that Kelis’ ‘Milkshake’ really did bring all the boys to the yard. Pairing yellow knee high boots with a cute teddy bear shirt, Kelis impressed us with her hits ‘Millionaire’, ‘Acapella’ and ‘Trick Me’.
It was, however, her performance of the Calvin Harris track ‘Bounce’ which transported the entire arena into a sweaty dance club – leaving my cousin and I no choice but to fork out $5 for water after getting a full blown workout.
It is no secret that my favourite of the night was the divine Miss Kelly Rowland. After seeing her kill it twice at Supafest, I knew she would deliver quite the show.
Looking sexier than ever in a two piece red dress, Kelly worked the crowd with her hits ‘Like This’, ‘Work’ and ‘Stole’. I didn’t feel worthy of her Destiny’s Child medley which rattled off ‘Say My Name’, ‘Soldier’ and ‘Survivor’, before she treated two young girls to a lap dance from her sexy backup dancers on ‘Cater 2 U’. (It was a damn shame that I was not there to witness pop queen Delta Goodrem and Christina Milian receive this lap dance at Friday night’s show but I digress!)
Kelly then used karaoke style visuals to get the crowd to sing along to a cover of Bob Marley’s ‘Is This Love’ and her No.1 hit ‘Dilemma’ with the crowd singing Nelly’s part.
Determined to be the standout of the show, Kelly impressed with her sexy smash ‘Motivation’ before wrapping up with the David Guetta hit ‘When Love Takes Over’.
Omissions of my favourite hits ‘Commander’ and ‘Lay It On Me’ only left me wanting more. We hope she’ll announce a headline tour whilst on ‘The Voice’ next year to support her highly anticipated fifth studio album.
Next was the delightful singer-songwriter Ne-Yo. Straight away he invited the crowd to light up the arena on his debut hit ‘So Sick’, before showing off his dance moves on the upbeat tracks ‘She Knows’ and ‘Miss Independent’.
Swooning the crowd on soulful hits ‘Because Of You’ and ‘Sexy Love’, Ne-Yo reminded us that it had been too long since he’s been gone and to honour that he treated us to three new songs due for release on his album ‘Good Man’ next month.
Finally putting on his trademark hat, he showing off his songwriting credits in special renditions of Rihanna’s ‘Unfaithful’ and Beyonce’s ‘Irreplaceable’.
To round out the set, Ne-Yo served up party anthems ‘Closer’, ‘Give Me Everything’ and ‘Time Of Your Life’ whilst doing the splits and owning the stage like a true entertainer!
The highly anticipated Craig David followed and was looking better than ever in a bright pink jumper. Craig instantly transported me back to being a 10 year old kid obsessed with his Artful Dodger track ‘Re-Rewind’.
His set was billed as “Craig David presents TS5”. What is TS5 you ask? It seems its just him playing DJ to a mix of throwback hits and new songs from his album ‘The Time Is Now’, set for release in January.
Considering his new music seems to be UK garage/dance music and he was performing to an RNB audience, you could tell that the crowd just didn’t get it.
We wanted to hear ‘What’s Your Flava’, but in its place was his newer hit ‘When The Bassline Drops’ dedicated to “all of my ravers”. Despite this, his set managed to impress as he showed off his fast rapping and DJ skills before mashing up an array of his incredible hits with other well known songs.
‘Walking Away’ was infused with the gangsta vibes of ‘Still Dre’ by Dr Dre, recent hit ‘Nothing Like This’ was mixed with Clean Bandit’s ‘Rather Be’ and ‘7 Days’ was preluded by Fat Joe’s ‘All The Way Up’.
To close off his set he did a mashup of his biggest hit ‘Fill Me In’, recent hit ’16’ and the Jack Ü/Justin Bieber collaboration ‘Where Are Ü Now’.
Whilst it was clear that Craig David has happily reinvented himself, those who were a fan of his earlier work wanting to experience nostalgia may have been disappointed with his set.
The closing headliner Sean Paul started his set just before 11pm. Considering most people had to get up early for work on Friday morning, it was unfortunate that many gradually left his show mid-set. So much so that by the end of his set, there was quarter capacity as for when I arrived for the second performer Monifah.
If it bothered him, he didn’t let on, as he still delivered a high energy performance of his early hits ‘Gimme The Light’, ‘Get Busy’ and ‘Like Glue’.
Sean’s presence on a plethora of hits saw him perform features on Beyonce’s ‘Baby Boy’, Sia’s ‘Cheap Thrills’, Blu Cantrell’s ‘Breathe’, Enrique Iglesias’ ‘Bailando’ and Clean Bandit’s ‘Rockabye’.
To finish the set he performed his current single ‘No Lie’ and the party track ‘Temperature’ just before midnight.
It was truly a treat to be at the RNB Fridays Live concert. I would be surprised if it doesn’t return next year with another killer lineup – perhaps even in a stadium next time.
Australia sure does love RNB music and the nostalgia around it and all involved should be commended on putting on Australia’s biggest RNB party. Til next year!
RNB Fridays hits Melbourne this Thursday and Friday night before heading to Brisbane on Saturday night.
October 19 : Melbourne (Hisense Arena)
October 20 : Melbourne (Hisense Arena)
October 21 : Brisbane (Showgrounds)