Taio Cruz, Academy 2, Sheffield


Hesitant and bashful, UK R'n'B's latest hope must be more confident in the studios of America's hottest producers than at this Yorkshire venue's learner stage. At least, Taio Cruz's CV emphasises his accomplishments behind the mixing desk more than in his slowly burgeoning solo career.

This 26-year-old Sussex lad has already co-written the 2005 Brit Awards' best single – "Your Game" for Will Young and is now making a name for himself in more rarefied company. For some of the biggest hit-makers at home and abroad, think Simon Cowell here and Timbaland protégé Jim Beanz in the US, he is working on material for Justin Timberlake, Britney Spears and Leona Lewis. However, back in the spring, Cruz's album Departure merely grazed the Top 20.

Even then, an ability to celebrate contemporary styles without kowtowing to American tastes has already won him admirers, celebrity and otherwise. Forthcoming single "She's a Star" comes with a remix that features cameos from an unlikely combination of Busta Rhymes and the Sugababes. No such stellar support, mind, on his first gig outside London, with a motley crew of a band that includes a guitarist that looks like one of The Sopranos' seedy Italian cousins.

What his band lack in cohesion, the clued-up fans make up for, chanting all Cruz's uplifting choruses. Through the murky sound system, you still sense the carefully wrought momentum of Cruz's songs. Especially impressive is "Moving On", spare enough to survive such mauling. Given Cruz turned down a place at Oxford to concentrate on his music career, it is disappointing that he seems to have cribbed his lyrics from online essays. There is silky smoothness in "I Just Wanna Know", but "She's a Star" is as gooey as anything from an X Factor contestant.

With its house beat, "Come On Girl" could have been written with a Sheffield audience in mind, whether Gatecrasher's ravers or that new generation with this year's sound, the four-four/R'n'B crossover of bassline. With wide-eyed enthusiasm and lack of oomph in the undercarriage, Cruz's version sounds more like that bizarre British mix of rap and acid beats, hip house. In his sensitive hands, though, it is less monstrous hybrid and more a winning combination that could revive the career of many a struggling star name.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk