Live Review: En Vogue – 7th April 2017 – KOKO – London, UK
The 90’s! The decade really was one of the finest in music, wasn’t it? Ok, sure, a lot of one-hit wonders were offered to us during those fluro-filled ten years when shows like Top of the Pops and Smash Hits educated us on just who we should be obsessed with at any given time, and the age of manufactured pop music – something that grunge and punk ‘cool kids’ put their snobbish noses up at – helped carve the careers of some of the staples of mainstream pop music. I always remember the 90’s as a colorful time in music and the last musical era when music held a unique identity. While those days are well and truly in the past, many of the acts from those times have or are making their way back to the studio to record new material or to the stage to perform their hits once again for fans.
U.S girl group En Vogue were one of the biggest acts of the 90’s and remain one of the most successful girl groups in history. With global hits including Free Your Mind, Whatta Man and Don’t Let Go, the former vocal quartet held the pop/RnB centre stage for a number of years before the shine of their stardom began to fade and original members decided to call it a day.
Despite never achieving the same success of the groups early years, En Vogue continue to record and tour; a new album, Electric Cafe, is set for release later this year as founding member Cindy Herron-Braggs told eager fans during a stellar performance at London’s Koko in the bustling heart of Camden last night. To support the release the girls are currently on the road throughout Europe with stops at various cities around the UK this month, turning the nostalgic dial to high and getting the engine oiled up for their upcoming studio release.
For a solid 70+ minutes the now-trio, made up of founding members Cindy Herron-Braggs and Terry Ellis along with post millennium new starter Rhona Bennett offered fans a taste of whats to come on new album Electric Cafe, dishing up newly unveiled single Deja Vu within a set list overflowing with some of the staples of 90’s RnB.
With tightly choreographed dance routines which showcased the groups edgy moves within figure hugging predominantly black and gold attire, the trio unwrapped some of the tightest harmonies we have ever heard at a live show; all three members showcasing their vocal prowess throughout a set that was dripping in confidence, femininity and emotion.
While mainstream singles like the early delivered My Love (Never Gonna Get It) were what the fans had obviously crowded KOKO for, they were just as enthusiastic to get the dance moves down to the new numbers the band revealed during their time on stage; being encouraged every so often from the leading ladies to join in both vocally and to the groups pulsating stage rhythm.
With an enviable back catalogue that reigned over the set, lesser known numbers found their way among the juggernauts with ease; the early Nile Rodgers bass-esque funk of Ooh Boy and latest single Deja Vu sat robustly alongside set highlights Free Your Mind and power-ballad Don’t Let Go; the latter two getting the biggest reaction from the audience – most of who held phones in the air for the duration of the performances before the ladies paid tribute to those who came before them in a soul-train medley.
While the trio’s uptempo classics ruled the roost last night, there were also moments within the set for the crowd to lower their pulse rate and sway along to the gorgeous balladry of numbers like Emotions, a track taken from the groups recent An En Vogue Christmas film and a song that the girls had only ever performed once before on stage.
The band were also well rehearsed when it came to their crisp rap skills that were interjected within numbers like Whatta Man which had the band unite with fellow girl group Salt-N-Pepa back in the day for the collaborative 90’s classic and one that founding member Cindy Herron-Braggs dedicated to “all the good men in the audience tonight”.
Over the course of the night En Vogue proved that they can still give the latest pop starlets on the charts a good run for their money as they turned out a nostalgic string of hits to a sold out crowd, bringing the house down with impeccable vocals – individually and with tight-knit harmonies – and a confident strut and swagger that reminded London that they were back in town and they meant business.