Live Review: TLC – 9th June 2014 – Enmore Theatre, Sydney, Australia
On Monday night Sydney played host to RnB royalty as one of the world’s biggest selling girl groups brought their nostalgic hits to the city for a brief yet memorable tour of down under.
In the nineties, TLC ruled the airwaves and the stages of some of the biggest arenas around the world. During the decade and in the first few years of the noughties, singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas churned out 4 studio albums and over a dozen top selling hits and became one of history’s most celebrated and successful groups thanks to the groups mega-selling studio albums CrazySexyCool and FanMail.
Over the space of a healthy 12 year career, the trio offered us hits in the shape of Red Light Special, Creep, Ain’t Too Proud To Beg and Diggin’ on You as well as international chart dominating pennings like Unpretty, No Scrubs and of course their signature hit, Waterfalls. The ride came to an abrupt halt in 2002 with the sudden death of Left-Eye. Though the band released their fourth studio album, 3D, following the death of their band mate, TLC bowed out from the music world and we haven’t heard much from them since. Recently, however, the now-duo have been making appearances at music award ceremonies and have also taken back to the recording studio, providing guest vocals to Stooshe’s cover of Waterfalls and helping fellow-girl group Little Mix out on the bands DNA inclusion, Red Planet. With the wheels now in motion for a full throttle comeback, TLC have also taken back to the road with an Australian tour now underway.
The group recently announced their first tour of Australia a few months ago and word spread very quickly. With an initial one-off show penciled in for Sydney’s Enmore Theatre, a second had to be added to the schedule due to phenomenal demand.
Turning up last night at the Newtown venue, the vibe was certainly electric as the crowds pushed their way into the intimate venue and as soon as 9pm hit, the night was well and truly underway as band, dancers and the iconic girl-group took to the stage for their fans.
Dressed in 90’s-esque powder blue jumpsuits and complete with headset microphones, the pair offered fans a plethora of career defining musical gems including Creep, No Scrubs, Waterfalls and Unpretty.
In terms of the set-list, no stone was left unturned as T-Boz and Chilli offered us all of the group’s single releases from all 4 studio albums Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, CrazySexyCool, FanMail and 3D. The group opened the set with old school nuggets Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Baby Baby Baby, What About Your Friends and Hat 2 Da Back with a small interlude of Silly Ho and Kick Your Game chorus providing some mainstream staples to the opening nostalgic flows of Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip hits that lead us into the 14 song set.
While the duo were on top form, there were a couple of minor disappointments. Between songs and while the duo were off stage, the bands DJ provided interludes of what I can only describe as sheer annoyance; screeching and hollering for attention at any available moment with TLC chants and attempting to interact with the audience. Yes, I know what city I’m in and yes I want more TLC – you don’t need to ask me a million times. His input became redundant and cringe worthy very quickly and would have been better left omitted.
With the obvious absence of one of the original and key members of the group, one of the most noticeable things missing from the evening was Left-Eye’s contribution to the visuals and some of the audio elements of the show. Though the icons rap segments were left within a couple of the earlier performances, some of her key contributions including her incredible rap licking within No Scrubs, were left out of the show. There was also no sign of the singer within the video clips that that were shown behind the band during several of the song performances with the rapper. Each video appeared to have been carefully cropped to exclude Left-Eye and whether this had something to do with licensing or record company restrictions, it was a major loss and discredit to several of the key Left-Eye driven songs.
The bands second studio album, the 23 million selling CrazySexyCool, offered the crowd a wealthy stream of hits to sing along to with slow-jams including Diggin’ On You and Red Light Special sitting robustly alongside tracks like the ghetto-drenched Creep. We were then guided into FanMail territory with the records title track and I’m Good At Being Bad getting the audience worked into a frenzy before laid-back performances of Damaged and Unpretty wound us down and got us ready for their spectacular encore.
With dancers by their side – after a full-throttle dance-off that allowed the sold out crowd to witness the individual moves and grooves of the 6 person troupe – the group launched into memorable performances of their signature hits, No Scrubs and Waterfalls, and the crowd lapped up every nostalgic second of it as they sang at the top of their lungs from start to end while the group complimented their performances with the songs’ original dance routines. The pair then announced the news of the Australian release of their biopic film, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story before closing the show with a bonus performance of Meant To Be, the token new recording from the groups most recent greatest hits collection.
While the show was quite short at just over an hour and seemed like a possible tester tour in terms of preparing them for an international comeback and hopefully an arena tour, the night was quite incredible. Having been a fan of TLC from the very beginning and following their career through all 4 studio albums like an eager fanboy, I was pretty impressed at the group’s first full performances after such a lengthy period of time away from the scene. I had also pretty much written off any hope of seeing TLC on stage after the tragic loss of Left-Eye so to be able to see T-Boz and Chilli back in the game and delivering their solid back catalogue to their fans again after so many years is something I am incredibly grateful for and I look forward to one day seeing the group deliver the tracks in an arena setting where a band of their status rightfully belongs.
Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg
What About Your Friends
Hat 2 Da Back
Baby, Baby, Baby
Diggin’ on You
Red Light Special
I’m Good at Being Bad
Meant To Be