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A night of ‘90s nostalgia

SHOW-STOPPING: (L-R) Ginuwine, Faith Evans and Donell Jones

BACK IN March, The Show Tour hit headlines around the world after Mr Dalvin of legendary R&B quartet Jodeci, seemingly intoxicated, fell off the stage before singing a note.

His fellow band members (K-Ci and JoJo – DeVante was a no-show) thankfully managed to stay upright, but struggled through their back catalogue of hits and had many fans, gracefully packed into London’s Wembley Arena, leaving before they finished their painful set.

It was a shambolic end to what had been described as ‘the best concert’ to hit these shores in the last 12 months. R&B greats including Blackstreet, SWV and Dru Hill had revellers in a state of euphoric nostalgia as they belted out classics from yesteryear. And although overshadowed by Jodeci-gate, provided the perfect tribute to an era that helped shape R&B music.

So when it was announced that the second installment of The Show Tour would take place the following November, boasting a stellar line-up including singers Faith Evans, Donell Jones, Kelly Price, Sisqo and Ginuwine, I, like 20,000 others, marked the date in my diary.

If I’m honest, as an avid Sisqo fan (the blond-haired front man of ‘90s R&B quartet, Dru Hill), he was the only name I needed to see on the bill to entice me back to the legendary Wembley Arena after my previous experience (refer to paragraph one).

Of course, the other acts on the impressive line-up were not to be sniffed at, but it was the Thong Song king, I was most looking forward to see – and he didn’t disappoint.

Armed with a crew of three dancers (no doubt to fill the void left by his Dru Hill bandmates), the nimble singer worked the stage just as remarkably as he did in the band’s heyday. Now 35, Sisqo, who released his first solo album in 1999, effortlessly belted out crowd favourites Unleash The Dragon, Got To Get It, Incomplete and of course, Thong Song and had the crowd on their feet throughout the entirety of his short, but sweet set.

Singers Adina Howard (Freak Like Me), J Holiday (Bed) and Bobby V (Slow Down) had taken to the stage before Sisqo’s energetic set and warmed up the growing crowd with their vocally flawless performances.

Many males in the audience, even those with a significant other in attendance, made note of Ms Howard’s extremely toned legs, many of which I doubt will be able to recite her set list back to you. She did look amazing, though.

Ginuwine was next to take to take to the stage. Dressed in all white, the singer, famously known as the ‘sweet boy of R&B’, had females screaming before singing one thing! He still had it – a fact I know hadn’t escaped the star.

Opening his set with the sultry hit So Anxious, complete with teasing lifts of his t-shirt, the singer burned through his back catalogue – and randomly took on Michael Jackson’s too.

Although I was more than happy to dance to the King of Pop’s Beat Itand Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough, I struggled to make the connection. Then I cursed a little thinking that if he hadn’t spent so much time on his MJ tribute, I would’ve been able to hear 1996 hit Pony in its entirety. After all, that’s the song much of the crowd wanted to hear from the singer.

That being said, Ginuwine fully embraced his London fans, and at one point in his set, even successfully jumped off the stage (take note how it’s done, Mr Dalvin) and walked deep into the crowd. Nice touch. I’m actually surprised the ladies’ favourite made it out fully clothed.

Blackstreet’s Dave Hollister was next up. And as much as it pains me to say, he was my least favourite performer of the night. I couldn’t help think as he worked through hits Favourite Girl and the famed quartet’s U Blow My Mind, that his set would be best placed in a more intimate setting.

It felt as though his music was lost on a majority of the crowd, many of who had taken their seats by now or gone on toilet breaks. After the acts that had gone before him, his set seemed a little misplaced. Yet Hollister continued on like the professional he is and graciously thanked the crowd when leaving the stage.

Mario did a perfect job of picking up the pace after Hollister’s performance, belting out hits, which included 2002 debut Just A Friend and the song to spark crowd karaoke, Let Me Love You. As the singer’s personal cameraman filmed the crowd singing along to the No.1 slow jam of 2004, you could tell Mario was savouring this moment as much as we were. His voice was spread like butter over my personal favourite Crying Out For Me. Effortless execution from Mario.

His set was followed by Chicago’s finest, singer Donell Jones (yes, we were very spoilt for choice). Mr. Jones provided the perfect blend of up-tempo hits with a slower selection – and a set list for old school fans and those who joined the Donell Jones bus a little later. Overall, a very inclusive set, which included U Know What’s Up and his winning cover of Stevie Wonder’s hit Knocks Me Off My Feet.

Though the singer later complained on Twitter that his time on stage was “cut” due to the show’s late running, the singer managed to fit in a winning snapshot of his time in the spotlight.

After Donell Jones, it was ladies night. Kelly Price and Faith Evans, the two powerhouse vocalists of the ‘90s, were poised to bring the night to a show-stopping close.

Kelly, who has managed to maintain the stunning results of her extreme weight-loss, was first to take to the stage looking and sounding like perfection.

Her rich chocolate tones on crowd favourites Friend Of Mine and Love Sets You Free, took 20,000 people to church on Saturday night.

The New York native came, saw and conquered, that much is certain.

She paid tribute to late friend and collaborator Whitney Houston ahead of a rendition of Heartbreak Hotel, on which Whitney featured and then picked up sprits by asking the crowd to take on the roles of R Kelly and ‘Mr. Bigg’ (Ronald Isley) for the infamous phone call/sing-off during Friend Of Mine.

By the time Faith graced the stage, the crowd were amped, but the show was running over time – a point Faith didn’t let us forget.

“They’re trying to rush me, but I’ve been waiting backstage for two hours and I know many of you have been waiting to see me,” she started.

“I’m going to give you the best I can in the time I have.”

And that she did.

The singer, who looked and sounded like she’d be drinking from the fountain of eternal youth, burned through hit after hit to ensure her ‘Faithfuls' (her fans) got the most out of her time on stage.

Her rendition of debut single Soon As I Get Home was amazing as was Love Like This, her highest-charting solo single to date, I Love You and Burnin’ Up.

Faith’s performance, and those before her, provided a fitting reminder of why ‘90s R&B was and still is one of the most cherished eras in music.

Overall, a very fun and enjoyable night. Each artist on the bill gave 100 per cent on stage, even if time constraints meant they had to alter set lists at the last minute. It was disappointing, however, that Detroit crooner Chico DeBarge was billed, but did not perform. That being said, his absence didn’t take away from another memorable and nostalgic tribute to the 90s.

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