Janelle Monae Robinson of Atlanta, aka Cindi Mayweather of Metropolis threw down a performance to remember at the O2 ABC. Although, a special mention must go out to supporting band CockandBullKid who provided an impressive opening set to warm the crowd up.
As soon as the lights turned down on the stage, Janelle commanded the attention of the small audience in the albeit cosy Glasgow venue. A top-hatted ringmaster handled the introductions, shortly followed by a video message from Cindi, Janelle’s futuristic-Android-freedom-fighter-alter-ego who demanded that we “dance or die”.
From then on it was a rollercoaster of sounds and activities, on-stage and and off, and for a person who chooses only to wear black and white tuxedos, the diversity of genres and styles covered was breathtaking… just-about everything including Latino jazz, 70s soul, psych-funk, old-school rhythm’n’blues, easy listening and rockabilly twang. The highlight, of-course, was the much anticipated “Tightrope” – which, not surpisingly, has enjoyed most of the airtime since the release of Monae’s debut album, The ArchAndroid.
But the show was much more than that – an epic dispaly of madness… well choreographed, and hugely entertaining, madness! There were grim reapers, masked avengers, dancing nuns, flying feathers, popping balloons – all taking turns to share the stage with Janelle, in very quick succession. Janelle, no doubt kept her cool, dancing vigorously and acting out each song emotion by emotion – even finding time to put paint to canvas, though not her best talent. Her band was equally as enthusiastic, spontaneously joining in the dancing and generally adding that something extra to an already dramatic performance.
By the end, I felt like I’d just been initiated into some kind of hip-hop cabaret cult – and it felt awesome! The only downside to this night was Janelle’s reluctance to connect with the audience on any “human” level… no hey, no banter, no goodbye…. strictly business like her monochrome get-up. At least some poor sod got her sorry excuse of a painitng as a birthday/parting gift.
Checkout my photos from the gig here.