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Live Review: Kelis – 23rd July 2014 – The Hi-Fi, Sydney, Australia

4 min read

Having recently wrapped up impressive show stopping performances at some of the UK’s biggest music festivals including the juggernaut that is Glastonbury where her performance was hailed as one of the biggest successes at this year’s event, Milkshake and Trick Me hit-maker Kelis decided that it was about time to make a visit Down Under and fans could not have been more excited.

The singer’s latest album Food was released a few months back and set the wheels in motion for a string of international dates including a quick visit to Australia where the pint-sized U.S star pencilled in dates with Sydney’s Hi-Fi and Melbourne’s intimate The Prince.

As I arrived to catch the singer at Sydney’s Hi-Fi last night, nestled within the bustling confines of the Entertainment Quarter, the fans were evidently eager to catch the musician while she was in town as they lined the walkway leading up to the venue, waiting to get a glimpse of the musician and see the singer deliver some of her chart topping hits and new songs from her latest studio album.

With a brief support slot filled by impressive soul duo Jones JNR, Kelis burst onto the stage at 9.45pm with a syrupy cover of the iconic Nina Simone hit, Feeling Good before quickly moving into Food territory with Breakfast paving the way for several of the singer’s brand new penning’s to be showcased.

The stage was beautifully outfitted with ruffled gold draping lining the entire back wall of the stage, creating a shimmering backdrop for the singer who was dressed in a gorgeous, sparkly power blue jumpsuit and donned a flowing perm, looking every bit the funk/soul diva that she has become with her latest studio effort.

International chart topping record Tasty, which recently celebrated its 10th birthday as Kelis pointed out to the crowd; the singer messing about with a 19 year old in the front row, joking with the teen “you weren’t even born when I released Kaleidoscope”, was given its moment to shine with Trick Me offering the crowd one of the stars most successful singles as well as Millionaire. Milkshake, the song we were all hoping to hear during the set and the single that catapulted Kelis onto the international stage, was added as the set-list centrepiece and was given a soul-drenched reworking with Kelis bouncing around the stage and being playful with her two-piece horn section.

Taking us back in time, we were also offered some of the singles cut from the singer’s debut album, Kaleidoscope with Get Along With You injecting some nostalgia into the centre of the set list; its chilling instrumentation and desperate lyrics being one of the key moments of concert, as well as a bouncy performance of Good Stuff. The one track missing from the set however was Caught Out There, the song that introduced us to the husky voiced superstar.

Among the new Food penning’s, Forever Be and the singers personal favourite, Cobbler, a song that she described as being about the aftermath of a relationship and dealing with some of the awkward issues like “I still need to get my keys back from you”, were also the clear favourites of the crowd who filled the Hi-Fi from back to front and who cheered the singer as she shared warmth and humour at ever available opportunity between songs.  While the singers vocals are usually quite limited within her singles and during live performances, a surprise burst of range during the performance, hitting notes that we thought only the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Mariah Carey were capable of reaching, proved that there is so much more to Kelis’ vocal abilities than the smoky, huskiness delivered in her records.

Flesh Tone, Kelis’ 2010 studio album, was given some limelight with Acapella proving a crowd-pleaser as well as 4th of July finding a nesting spot toward the end of the set. The singers collaboration with Calvin Harris on the hugely successful Bounce was inserted within the opening half of the set and while Calvin was not able to make the gig, her horn section were more than capable of proving the sturdy, dance-fuelled instrumentation with a flute and trumpet to allow the singer to dazzle and get the audience dancing along to the club anthem.

Successfully mastering the task of reinventing herself through multiple genres including hip hop, pop, dance and now soul/funk with Food proving another successful staple in the singer’s catalogue, Kelis has all the hits in place to make any performance pretty memorable and last night’s show at the Sydney Hi-Fi was no exception. With the set list balanced perfectly between old and new hits and unreleased gems, as well as being able to share a laugh with a down to earth and engaging performer, fans were offered a great show from one of the industry’s most versatile artists.