Disappointed that she ended her show at Brixton Academy last year without an encore, we told ourselves that we would just have to try to catch Erykah live again the next time she was in London and that if we were lucky enough to do so that, that show would have to serve as our reprise. It was a long wait and unfortunately wasn’t all that we had hoped it would be.
Dressed in a trench coat and hat, Erykah breezed onto the stage at the Hammersmith Apollo and took the lively applause in before waltzing in her regal manner over to the mic. Accompanied by four backing singers, an eleven strong band and a twinkling backdrop, she opened the show with 20 Feet Tall. From there she concentrated much of her performance and two hour set on covers and songs from her New Amerykah releases from which we got The Healer, Umm Hmm and Twinkle. We also got more well-known tracks from her debut, Baduizm including Apple Tree, On & On and Other Side of the Game. Old gem Love of my Life got the best response from the crowd but for some reason I wasn’t really feeling it as much this time ‘round.
To be fair, Erykah sang her heart out and as always, performed incredibly well. She also mixed things up with a little scatting and improvisations on her drum machine and even introduced us to her producer who got the crowd whopping in excitement when he dropped the intros to a couple of the hip-hop classics he worked on during his career. However despite these few interactions which got the entire crowd singing, I found the show to be a little dull and lacking.
Maybe I felt this because I was comparing her show last night to the one I attended last year (which was honestly miles better) or perhaps I was disappointed that she didn’t perform a single of my favourite tracks off of her exceptional Mama’s Gun album. My lack of enthusiasm could well be down to the fact that we hung out quite far back and weren’t in the thick of the crowd – vibes can get lost in a bigger venue compared to a more intimate gig, especially if you are stood right in front of a middle-aged couple both trying to out-do one another with their operatic sing-a-longs. Most likely though, the reason we weren’t feeling it too much was probably because Kendrick Lamar completely SPOILED us earlier on in the week and experiencing two hyped nights like that in one week wouldn’t have been fair and is probably too big an ask! Whatever the reason, in between nodding our hellos to the familiar faces from previous gigs and friends of friends, on the way back to the cloakroom, we agreed to try to stick to our one-gig-rule, that is: never see an artist twice because, as experience shows us time and again, they always tend to let you down the second time.