N.E.R.D gigs are invariably a hot ticket – a place to be seen and where celebrities, both on and off the stage, are in abundance.
N.E.R.D gigs are invariably a hot ticket – a place to be seen and where celebrities, both on and off the stage, are in abundance. Even without a new album to promote and a gig which acts as a stopover on the way back from the European MTV awards, the band are always a big draw.
Backed by the Spymob band that played on the ‘In Search Of…’ album, the sound is extremely tight – thanks to their military procession as producers – whilst a rare live appearance by Chad Hugo doesn’t go unnoticed, with his youthful energy, beaming smile and idiosyncratic dance moves. Then there’s Pharrell; the veritable laydeez man, oozing charisma and sex appeal to such extend he can conduct the audience as he wishes whilst roaming the stage with his Day-Glo sunglasses. The screams are, at times, deafening and Justin Timberlake isn’t even here!
Whether it’s the lack of onstage celebrity collaboration or their reason for playing the gig, the set doesn’t quite reach the hysteria levels of their appearance here earlier in the year. It does, however, have an infectious energy that envelops the crowd in a frenetic manner. All the hits are here, from a chunky ‘Rock Star’ to a sexy ‘She Wants to Move’, showcasing the band’s talent which has always been to incorporate and mutate a range of styles. Portions of funk, hip-hop, pop, new wave, rock and soul all provide a foundation for songs that never pretend to be anything other than great fun.
It’s interesting to note that the most important production team of the past few years are actually becoming more exciting and interesting on stage than behind the mixing desk. Even though, at times, they walk a very thin line between boy band essence and credible live act, they always retain copious lashing of sex and party atmospherics. They even have time to get political as well as publicly venting their frustration with the US arm of Virgin records which they claim spent little effort selling ‘Fly or Die’.
The band finish with a rousing rendition of ‘Lapdance’ that just about raises the roof and manages to snare the remaining few fans – many who could no longer resist the charms or seduction of the most charismatic live act around.
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