THE new Red Box venue in Dublin's POD nightclub was given a man-sized launch last night when UK hip-hop diva Neneh Cherry ended her current tour at the Harcourt Street venue. We've known Neneh for quite some time now, and her career has seemed to come in fits and, starts, but overall, the step-daughter of jazz trumpeter Don Cherry has steered a solid, course through modern rap, soul and hip-hop styles.
Lately, Cherry has gone a bit, trip-hoppy, and her new mellow stance is either a result of contented motherhood, or an attempt to regain her rightful credit as one of the originators of the Bristol sound. And just in case you don't believe her, then Somedays, a track she recorded with Portishead's Geoff Barrow back in 1992, should provide the proof.
An even earlier tune, Manchild, showed that Cherry's strength is in her softness, and Everything embraced a pop philosophy which included love, friendship, motherhood and nurturing.
It's when Neneh tries to rock out that her music starts to ring false, but Zip Me Up was saved by the lady's energetic larynx, which fastened firmly on the soulful side.
Neneh's most recent smash, Woman, was given a dubby rem ix, opening up a heady world of beats and echoes, but 7 Seconds was ticked off like clockwork, and the capacity crowd synchronised perfectly with the familiar rhythm. Current single Kootchi was all rip-shredding sound and bed-hopping sexuality, but it didn't quite match the sensuality of the slower, seductive beats.
Buffalo Stance got a stampeding funk-rap remix, which neatly sidestepped the problem of doing a big production job on stage, while Inna City Mama painted a graffiti picture of Cherry's own organic, urban pop style.