In between the swarms of women dressed in black tuxedo’s, a young man was dancing to the warm up music. As a woman glanced at him, he suddenly pulled her in and shoved a glass of champagne in her hands.
‘Before we were strangers, now we are friends!’ He shouted gaily to the young lady, looking quite aghast but happy with her free alcohol.The doors opened behind him and he danced away into the concert hall at the Sydney Opera House.
A stack of percussion, a myriad of synthesizers and four chairs were washed in lurid red light on the stage. Janelle Monae’s scene of android madness was set, pictures of her alter-ego flashed behind the stage as speakers blared James Brown’s Sex Machine at an ever-increasing volume.
A delicate string overture and a top hatted man’s introduction later, and the lady herself spun from behind a black cloak to piercing screams from the crowd. She burned through opener Dance or Die , drums scatting behind her. Rapping and throwing her voice around, she tap danced her way across the stage and conducted a frantic audience. Funky death eaters swarmed and danced around a backing band who were in sync with every note and dance move. They melted into Faster and doubled the pace before Monae broke out in a fit of dancing and freezes and stops. Hopping quickly from one section to another, it became a freight train of jiving madness before suddenly it plunged into black and the audience collapsed with exhaustion.
Guiding the audience through a fusion gumbo of motown rhythms, soul vocals, jazz hooks and RnB vibes, Monae was a vortex of charisma- sucking the energy from the audience and rolling it back out. It was not as much as gig as a exhibition of creative arts, she painted the image of the android whilst singing, staged a mock fight between the cloaked dancers before shooting them all, and strutted and tap danced her way through standouts Cold War, and Tightrope. Showing off her pipes, she purred and roared her way through a stripped back Smile, unleashing a devastatingly perfected voice.
Peppering her set with blinding covers of Goldfinger and I Want You Back, before finishing with single We Are Young, Monae’s gig was a non stop, epileptic fit of dance goodness for 2 hours. A strikingly talented performer.