En Vogue: like a volcano meeting a lightning bolt
The coolest queens of R&B unload the hits from their back catalogue and take a gallop through their musical influences in a whirlwind power hour of music
Artist: En Vogue
Venue: Vicar Street
Date Reviewed: April 6th, 2017
It’s a clash of the titans at En Vogue’s sold out show in Vicar Street. On stage, we have Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron and Rhona Bennett, the cool and poised R&B group on the first night of their European tour. And on the floor, we have the official meeting of the Sound Gal Symposium 2017: a 90 per cent female crowd who are cutting loose of a Thursday.
Kicking things off with a sleeper hit from 2000, No No No (Can’t Come Back), they ease us into the night. As one half of the crowd drop their jaws in awe at these striking women, the other half dutifully Wikipedia their age and shrieks of “She’s 55” ricochet through the crowd just before we are flung into the throes of My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).
Dressed all in black (and sipping on BLK water), they lure us in with perfectly choreographed arm flicks and body twists that connect them like a beautiful, mechanical K’Nex display as their earth-shattering vocals hit every note and throw in a few extra, just to be sure. This is all done to a backing track because a band would surely distract from their Olympian vocals. Just three divas on a stage; or maybe a band would have broken the budget.
But for every Whatta Man, where Bennett and Herron riff through Salt N’Pepa’s rap verses, we have Emotions, a gospel disco song taken from their 2014 Lifetime movie An En Vogue Christmas. We want the hits and they need to promote their forthcoming album Electric Cafe. It is understood that the setlist will be hit for tat, with every second song allowing a run to the loo or the bar. Wrong.
Don’t Let Go (Love) is thrown into the middle of the setlist and the shrieks from the toilet queue for a poorly timed wee are panicked but those left on the floor rise up and sing like it’s a vocation. This must be what it’s like to see a volcano meeting a lightning bolt.
At the core of En Vogue’s performance is an entertainment model that the likes of The Four Seasons and The Supremes used. They are here to entertain to you by all means necessary. And with that, we are treated to a medley of songs that influenced their career, each one more dizzying than the last; Donna Summer’s Bad Girls, Patti LaBelle’s Lady Marmalade, Cheryl Lynn’s Got to be Real and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary, before finishing the night with Hold On, their debut single from 1990.
The gigs ends an hour on the dot and we, the crowd that refuse to go home, take care of the encore with the second and third outing that Don’t Let Go deserves.