“There are few pleasures in life as satisfying as hearing Jason Derulo sing his name live in front of you.”
Crowds roll into RNB Fridays Live when doors open at 3.30pm, but the festival only really feels like it has kicked off two hours later with Brandy’s set. A small crowd is attentive throughout Keri Hilson’s set, showing some love for her more recognisable tracks like Pretty Girl Rock.
Sisqo’s performance draws a larger crowd. He performs in front of an aesthetic AV display, and perfect lighting for the time of day. An emotional performance of Incomplete is the highlight of his entire set.
Between sets, organisers fail to accommodate the significant amount of ticket holders at the event. Having thousands of people trying to purchase their drinks from severely understaffed bars with minimal direction to the rapidly growing crowds leaves tension in the air.
Sisqo @ RNB Fridays Live. Photo by Terry Soo.
Up until now artists have failed to make a connection with the crowd, due to a range of external issues rather than subpar performances. As we move into the countdown for Brandy’s set, the crowd grows. From the get-go, there is no denying that Brandy is putting on a stellar performance. The artist who is widely regarded as the “Princess of R&B” showcases an array of her greatest hits, with a particularly soulful performance of Have You Ever moving through to the ultimate R&B crowd-pleaser, The Boy Is Mine. A short Lizzo cover and The Pussycat Dolls’ anthem Don’t Cha take the crowd to an entirely new level. Brandy displays a level of warmth and puts out an energy into the crowd that can only be described as one of pure love – it’s undoubtedly reciprocated.
Brandy @ RNB Fridays Live. Photo by Terry Soo.
There are few pleasures in life as satisfying as hearing Jason Derulo sing his name live in front of you. After a lengthy intermission, the crowd has more than doubled in size and energy. But Derulo’s set seems messy. The man can work a stage and put on a great show, but in a rushed effort to fit all of his notable songs into 45 minutes, we are given a medley of his older tracks dedicated to his “day ones in the crowd”. It Girl should never be reduced to a medley. Jason Derulo sets the tone for the rest of the night, with crowds ready to party on through to 50 Cent.
Jason Derulo @ RNB Fridays Live. Photo by Terry Soo.
Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, is so deeply embedded into the R&B and hip hop world that it’s almost surreal to see him perform live. His level of professionalism on stage and how he can control the crowd is striking. This man is a king. Sounding as fresh as the day they were recorded, we hear In Da Club, Candy Shop, Window Shopper, PIMP and the crowd is alive. The set is unreal, exciting and exactly what the crowd wants. 50 Cent has easily become the highlight of the event thus far.
50 Cent @ RNB Fridays Live. Photo by Terry Soo.
Next up, Black Eyed Peas. The way the new-era Black Eyed Peas perform is seamless from start to finish, with new addition Jessica Reynoso, otherwise known as J Reysoul, on vocals. The group gives a super tight, clean performance, with great energy and incredible production. Holding up the Australian Aboriginal Flag is a beautiful testament to the love and inclusiveness that Black Eyed Peas represent and resonates well with the crowd.
Black Eyed Peas @ RNB Fridays Live. Photo by Terry Soo.
There is no denying that Janet Jackson is an icon. Whether you love her or hate her, her place in music history is undeniable. Within the first two songs, some of the crowd begins to dissipate. Jackson’s dancing, thrusting and singing is mesmerising, and despite the crowd’s potential mistrust about lip-syncing, her set remains an incredibly entertaining display. We reach the finale, Rhythm Nation, which proves to be her best performance of the night.
Enjoyable and inspiring, RNB Fridays proves worth the wait in the lines.