Reviewed on Wednesday July 23
“The whole point is to have a good time, right?” cooed Kelis in her soft New York drawl. The crowd was certainly in the mood, and joking and hip-shaking her way through her set, Ms. Rogers seemed to be too. So it’s a shame the show fell a little flat.
She could’ve walked straight off the set of American Hustle. With big hair and hoops, and in a sheer pale green/blue sequined dress, Kelis opened with Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Breakfast’, the first track from her latest album Food.
The ’70s soul on that LP required the brass section that accompanied her onstage. The trumpet, tenor sax, piano and bass combo worked well on the newer tracks, particularly behind the down and dirty soul pleading of, “Give me what I want / Give me what I need / I’m begging you please / I’m down on my knees,” on ‘Friday Fish Fry’. On ‘Cobbler’, salsa percussion and horn stabs accompanied some impressive high notes from the star and her backing singer.
With six albums now under her belt and a new album to flog we wouldn’t have expected to hear all the hits. ‘Caught Out There’ and ‘Bossy’ were omitted. Those we did hear – ‘Get Along With You’, ‘Good Stuff’ and ‘Glow’ – were clumped together in a disappointing mid-show medley.
A marching band version of ‘Milkshake’ was a highlight, but replacing the beats for brass (and sometimes some jazz flute) on Kelis’ trio of EDM hits – ‘Bounce’, ‘4th Of July (Fireworks)’ and ‘Acapella’ – didn’t really do the uptempo originals any favours.
It was a disjointed but enjoyable show in which the organic new material translated well in a live setting. It could’ve been even more entertaining with a little more thought about how to adequately rework the crisply produced hits and occasional brilliance from a strong 15-year career catalogue.