Described as “Australia’s biggest party”, RNB Fridays Live brought its all-star line-up to GIANTS Stadium on Saturday (slightly ironic) for a night of nostalgia overload. From Janet Jackson to Jason Derulo, the list of artists brought together R&B fans of all ages for a massive six-hour celebration.
J- Kwon @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
J-Kwon was the first artist to take to the stage. Feeling homesick for St Louis, the rapper paid tribute to some of his hometown’s biggest names, covering Nelly’s Hot In Herre and Chingy’s Right Thurr before finishing with his ‘04 hit Tipsy, which had the growing crowd bouncing. Keri Hilson kept the ’00s vibe going, kicking off her high energy set with empowered Kanye West and Ne-Yo collab, Knock You Down. Wearing a shirt that read “Black women deserve love that doesn’t require suffering first,” the charismatic artist spoke on the importance of inner beauty with closing crowd-pleaser, Pretty Girl Rock.
Keri Hilson @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
DJs YO! Mafia and Horizon (both now staples at R&B and hip hop gigs) and hosts Ash London and the always entertaining Fatman Scoop, dressed in a form-fitting, fluorescent lycra outfit, kept the stadium hyped and entertained between sets.
Dru Hill frontman Sisqo’s set delivered all the best of cheesy ‘90s R&B – highly choreographed and perfectly executed synchronised dancing, matching outfits, retro visuals styled to his ‘99 album Unleash The Dragon’s aesthetic (dragon mic attachment included) and ad-libs for days. Although determined to make it known his biggest hit was ballad Incomplete, the peak of his set came with that note in Thong Song, emphasised by CO2 jets and ear-piercing crowd screams.
Sisqo @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
Donning the coolest and most colourful outfit of the day, ‘mystery act’ Brandy delivered some of the best vocals of the night, with classic ’90s R&B throwback hits Best Friend and What About Us?. With a laidback stage presence and some sweet moves, ‘The Vocal Bible’ had punters singing along to Monica collaboration The Boy Is Mine at the top of their lungs.
Brandy @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
Floridian superstar Jason Derulo is the complete showman. The incredibly talented performer, clad in a sparkly sequinned jacket, entertained with a theatrical set that had pyrotechnics, impressive vocal runs and a lot of dancing. “I’m celebrating ten years in the music industry. I want to thank you for holding it down from the beginning,” he announced, before cramming ten years worth of hits like It Girl, In My Head, Trumpets and Swalla into his relatively short, but highly energetic set.
Jason Derulo @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
Joined by a full band (including an incredible, standout guitarist), hip hop heavyweight 50 Cent brought down the house with what could have been the headlining set. Keeping the nostalgia level high, the Queens rapper seemed to be having just as much fun as his audience as he performed his house party playlist essentials PIMP, How We Do, Candy Shop, Ayo Technology and In Da Club in front of old video clips. Like many of the other acts on the bill, he included a new single in his set, but as with the other acts, it just didn’t land as well as the classics.
50 Cent @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
Punters were treated to a surprise performance from the ‘President of Party’ himself, with Fatman Scoop receiving the biggest crowd response of the night as he delivered energetic club hit Be Faithful, taking his shirt off and eliciting even more screams than Derulo did.
The iconic bassline of Let’s Get It Started announced the arrival of mega-group Black Eyed Peas, who brought a whole new energy, making their way through their catalogue of hits like Boom Boom Pow and Pump It, the latter setting the whole stadium off.
All eyes were on new vocalist, Jessica Reynoso. Discovered on The Voice Philippines, the singer, who now goes by J Reysoul, wowed even the biggest Fergie fans with undeniably impressive vocals, shining on tracks like Just Can’t Get Enough and The Time (Dirty Bit).
Will.i.am and Taboo, who wore a shirt with the Aboriginal Flag on it took a moment to “shout out the Aboriginals”, respectfully thanking them for allowing them to play on their land. “Whether you’re Black, white, straight, gay, Aboriginal, native, Chinese, Filo… we’re all just people,” Will.i.am announced, introducing the track that launched them into stardom, Where Is The Love?, phone torches lighting up the stadium.
Black Eyed Peas @ RNB Fridays Live, GIANTS Stadium. Photo by Brendan Delavere.
Will.i.am spoke about first discovering electro music in a Sydney nightclub back in 2008, a moment which changed his life and the Black Eyed Peas’ sound forever, before finishing the set off on a high with I Gotta Feeling.
Reports of low energy, lacking performances by headliner Janet Jackson in other cities were unfounded in Sydney. Compared to the high energy dance-pop delivered in the Black Eyed Peas set, Jackson’s may have come off as a bit mellow, but it was far from dull. The music icon, accompanied by a band and dance troupe, ploughed through far too many of her songs to count, incorporating tight, epic dance breaks into hits like Control, Together Again and All For You.
“Let’s go, Michael,” the star shouted as her brother Michael Jackson appeared on screen in the ‘95 video clip for their duet, Scream – a definite highlight. In her sparkly black jumpsuit, the star finished her set with Rhythm Nation, a classic that’s now 30 years old, saluting her adoring fans before making her way off stage – a perfect end to a thoroughly entertaining show.