N-Dubz, O2 Arena, London
Tireless trio are a number one attraction
Tuesday 03 May 2011
As the merciless screams from the sportswear-and-mini-skirt-clad audience welcomed on to the stage Tula "Tulisa" Contostavlos, Richard "Fazer" Rawson and Dino "Dappy" Contostavlos, it was hard not to assume that the evening's proceedings were destined to alienate all but the most fanatical teenage aficionado of this British hip-hop/R&B trio.
But after the opening track, "Took It All Away", as the expressive vocals from Camden's answer to Beyoncé, Tulisa, competently soared alongside charismatic verbal contributions from Dappy and Fazer, over soft-rock rhythms from the live band and some gravity-defying acrobatics from the dancers in tow, the whole thing peculiarly started to feel rather fun. The entire audience, both standing and seated alike, went wild.
Unlike their records on the radio, the sound is surprisingly raw, with the trio's lively performances never struggling to keep up with their young energetic audience. The same, however, cannot be said for singer-songwriter Mr Hudson who made an appearance for "Playing with Fire". Jumping up and down with rapidly diminishing vitality, it was like someone was letting the air out of his bouncy castle.
Another exception to the otherwise consistently lively proceedings was a costume and staging change that transported us to a bordello-cum-speakeasy, presumably inspired by a video clip shown of Tulisa aged 11 singing "My Name is Tallulah" from Bugsy Malone. Asking us if we'd like to hear her 2011 version she sings a capella, "My Name is Tulisa". An entirely baffled audience, unimpressed by the reference, slumped back into their seats and suffered an immediate bout of fatigue, Mr Hudson-style.
But the relaxed mood doesn't last long and the crowd are soon in a lasting state of abandoned bliss for the chart hit "Number 1". Especially happy were those at the back who had been watching postage-stamp-sized screens all evening and were now amid an impressive laser display that stretched right across the audience.
So apart from the less than enthralling speakeasy theatrical showcase, and given their rather vapid studio-recorded tracks, it's a surprisingly authentic and entertaining live show that leaves the hip-hop trio's fans in a state of dazed contentment and suggests N-Dubz are deserving of their significant fanbase.
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