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RNB FRIDAYS @ HBF Park gets 7/10


RNB Fridays @ HBF Park

w/ Janet Jackson, Black Eyed Peas, 50 Cent & more
Friday, November 8, 2019

7/10

Dudes, what in the actual fuck? On Friday night a living legend performed in Perth, at RNB Fridays, to a half empty stadium! The crowd that had bopped to Brandy, got down to Jason Derulo, and dropped low for 50 Cent, halved when Janet Jackson hit the stage and to be honest, I am stunned! To those that bailed, your loss, but we’ll get to that shortly…

RNB Fridays has been around for a while now running the gamut from nostalgic to current artists. The latest instalment relied heavily on acts from the 2000s and judging by the crowd, everyone was excited to get a bit Y2K.

Keri Hilson

Unfortunately we didn’t get inside the venue in time to get Tipsy with J-Kwon or catch Keri Hilson (thanks to some unfortunate doorlist dramas) but we arrived just as Sisqo “unleashed the dragon”! Backed up by amazing sequined dancers, he waxed lyrical about his ‘hits’ and dropped a little interlude of How Many Licks (the Lil Kim track he featured on) before playing what we were waiting for: Thong Song. The crowd at this point was a bit small, perhaps because of the heat, or the early set times. A grandstand that isn’t full doesn’t look great to be honest, but those of us there were having lots of sweaty fun.

Yo! Mafia was VJing between artists, knocking out hit after hit, which was the order of the day with most outfits playing medleys of their songs to fit into their limited set times. There was a great atmosphere, thanks in part to the way the festival is run, with no boring bits. Changeovers were quick (mostly), everyone was singing and dancing along, we didn’t come across any boofheads; it was all smiles.

Brandy

Brandy, dressed in a red hot tracksuit with the word icon across her lap, looked utterly amazing despite the heat. And she sounded even better. Busting out a medley of songs including Baby, Wanna Be Down (swoon), and Have You Ever, the most surprising element of her short set was how few people in the crowd were actually getting down! Like her pants said, she is an icon. Although, when the chimes of Boy Is Mine rang out, a few more people got into it. Finishing on What About Us her set ended all too quickly.

Jason Derulo (touching a butt)

The sun was setting, way more people had arrived, and Jason Derulo wiggled onto stage. Push me over with a feather because more people were excited for him than Brandy! Flanked by dancers, he put on a good show, albeit pretty sleazy (so many butts). He is definitely entertaining, although his music doesn’t rate for this reviewer. That said; when he played Ridin’ Solo the crowd erupted. His was the first full length set of the day, and peppered with loads of radio friendly hits – Whatcha Say, Wiggle (literally a song about butts), Trumpets, and Talk Dirty (also probably butt related). Credit where it’s due though, dude can dance, and with some slick production including stage flames, he definitely started the party.

50 Cent

A full band set up around DJ Horizon, who was keeping everyone dancing, while we waited for 50 Cent. The energy was pretty electric as the screens started to countdown. Before long G Unit was on stage, and we were all blinded by the enormous diamond necklace 50 Cent was sporting. It was a bit of an anticlimax though as there were sound issues with mics not working for the first track. Not that it seemed to bother anyone, the crowd was heaving. PIMP was the first big single they played, as well as Window Shopper, Ayo and 21 Questions but to be honest, the set dragged a bit. It was less party than the other acts, which makes sense given his roots in East Coast hip hop, but it lacked the rapid fire hits of the other performers. And when he played This Is How We Do it lasted about 20 seconds *tear*. But you just know In Da Club went absolutely off, glitter cannon and all!

Hype man Fatman Scoop had been sharing MC duties all day, and it was while we waited for Black Eyed Peas that he actually took to the stage to play Be Faithful. From the stands, you could watch the whole stadium throb up and down, just like the chicken heads he sings about (lol). It was quite a sight. But it was time to find a good possie on the dance floor.

Black Eyed Peas

Fergie is no longer in Black Eyed Peas, which for long-time fans suggested a return to the group’s roots as a threesome, and we were hopeful for some late 90s material. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be, despite Will.i.am giving a massive spiel about Australia being the first country they broke into at the turn of the century. Instead, they played hits from Elephunk and beyond. Bouncing onto the stage with Let’s Get It Started, they followed up with Boom Boom Pow, Pump It and new single RITMO. They also introduced their newest recruit, plucked from The Voice Philippines, Jessica Reynoso. It was high energy from start to end, the group only taking a breather when Will.I.Am performed his solo single Scream & Shout. The biggest song of the set, and in fact the whole day, was Where Is the Love? which saw the whole stadium go nuts, before they wrapped up with I Gotta Feeling.

Immediately after Black Eyed Peas finished people started to bail… Not to the bar, not to the bathroom, but actually out of the venue. It was honestly so bizarre, did they not know who was next? Even if you’re not a fan, surely the opportunity to see Janet Jackson is one you wouldn’t give up. We were absolutely in disbelief at the mass exodus. Meanwhile, Horizon was DJing from the stands, where J-Kwon joined him to perform Tipsy again.

Janet Jackson

Now the stadium was 50% empty, and we were 100% embarrassed for her, but when Janet Jackson and her dancers appeared after a small delay on the riser, those of us still there got goosebumps. Then, those goddam mics stopped working again! Worst. Timing. Ever. She pushed on, seemingly unaware, but the issues continued on and off through her set. Regardless, she is an absolute force on stage, and undoubtedly a born performer. Opening with Control and Nasty our excitement only grew knowing she would dive deep into her back catalogue. It was hit after hit after hit – If, What Have You Done For Me Lately plus a reworked version of Go Deep was a highlight.

Janet Jackson

A lot of the choreography was recognisable from her old film clips, which was such a breath of fresh air from all the twerking we’d seen that day. There’s also no denying she has the famous Jackson hip thrust. Indeed she performed her duet with Michael Jackson Scream with his image from their music video playing behind her. Next was Got Til It’s Gone, All For You, Together Again, and That’s The Way Love Goes, which had everyone singing along. Being it’s the 30th anniversary of her Rhythm Nation album, it made sense to finish with the title track. Sadly her set lasted little more than 35 minutes which felt way too short for the headliner. The production, the flames, the confetti, the dancers, it was truly the best set of the day.

Moving forward, it would be cool to see RNB Fridays change to a different venue without seating or sections, so people could move about more freely (and in this instance, could have come together for the last set). But I hope they continue to bring out those classic acts because it felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity to see them. Fingers crossed for some gold next time around.

SHANNON FOX

Photos by Stu McKay

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