Solange | XOYO London 17.01.13
It’s official. Solange Knowles is too cool. Beyonce’s little sister could have selected a whole host of venues for her London debut since her ‘revamp’, but she chose XOYO to let the world see what an uber-babe she has become.
This venue choice in itself proves how modest she is about her ability. Coy and somewhat guarded on stage compared to Obama’s right-hand-woman, she is a breath of self-deprecating fresh air and dangerously endearing. Every song had a different vibe, and becomes a different platform for Miss Knowles to showcase her unfaltering vocals; smooth, sugar-honey-iced-tea tones which make even the most mundane lyrics sound heavenly.
Her opening track ‘Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work’ provides an upbeat start to kick things off and features the many talents of Devonté Hynes of Lightspeed Champion, Test Icicles, and Blood Orange fame. The lovechild of Prince and Andre 3000, he dominates for a minute or so with a dark and deep-voiced monologue, generating ample cheers from the crowd who appear love-struck at the fact this gig is actually happening. He and the singer-of-the-moment clearly work well together; with not only the music proving this, but also their spot on synchronised dancing.
Rummaging through her old record collection Solange pulled out the Cee-Lo produced ‘T.O.N.Y’ from her second album, which goes down well with the more veteran fans, clearly with her long before the hype. ‘Bad Girls’ is up next, originally a song for her new accomplice Devonté, this rendition, known as the ‘Verdine’ version, is all slow beats and shimmering synths, with the Blood Orange singer busting out some serious electric guitar. Think ‘Purple Rain’.
One thing evident at this sold out gig is that this girl freaking loves music; whether it’s the breadth of material she reminds us she’s penned, her insanely on-point dancing or the fact she brought out her ‘good friend’ Oliver XX for a duet of Nicole Wray’s 1998 r’n’b gem ‘Make it Hot’. It makes for a magical moment, not just because it was great seeing him do his own thing away from his stone-faced monochrome band mates, but also as Solange said “only London heard that so that was pretty special”.
Casually she tells the crowd she wrote ‘Crush’ when she 15 with Pharrell. It’s this breezy, nonchalantly cool attitude that makes Solange so appealing. In an age where more artists than ever before are vying for attention, heading straight for the top venues with only a handful of songs under their belt, it’s refreshing to have genuine talent taking the right steps up the success ladder. This sister is earning her stripes.
There were, however, some duds. With her recent creative burst, some of S’s older tracks now don’t quite make the cut, or sound particularly in keeping with her new inimitable direction. ‘Cosmic Journey’, a slow, ethereal song, is met with little fanfare, but in truth it does sound better on record.
Somewhat predictably, but no less perfectly, the evening begins to wind down with ‘Losing You’: the song everyone has been waiting for. It’s one of the most peculiar love songs and possibly one of the greatest for the modern generation. Understandably, the whole place goes absolutely crazy for it and once again a room full of bright, young Londonites is doing the Solange shuffle and cooing their heads off to her heavenly vocals.
Old fans and new gathered tonight to initiate modern music’s new queen. It’s safe to say the gig will more than whet the world’s appetite that little bit more for the girl who is reinventing r’n’b and slapping it with an 80s twist. 2013 will no doubt be this superstar-in-waiting’s year, with an expected album release and appearances at Field Day already pencilled in. An icon in the making, she’s too unique to compare to anyone or anything else at the minute. All the same, Queen B best get ready for some new music royalty.