will.i.am: review - 'ridiculously hedonistic'

3.00

O2, London, Thursday December 5

“Check me out,” crows will.i.am on ‘Geekin’, dedicated to “all the intelligent rebels” in the room. “I’m an engineer!” It’s an accurate, if oddly practical pop boast: he has, he tells us, has just been accepted onto a computer science course at MIT.

It’s this prolific producer’s scientific, somewhat calculated approach to pop music that I’ve always found off-putting. Particularly in the latter days of the Black Eyed Peas, the Frankenstein’s monster cut-and-shut nature of crass horrors such as ‘The Time’ (retro Dirty Dancing Soundtrack sample plus massive romping synths plus irritating saucy hook equals HIT) seemed cynical.

The formulae behind more recent work, though, such as fourth solo album ‘#willpower’ are more refined, relatively speaking (the album was originally due to be called ‘Black Einstein’). More that can be said for his stage set, consisting of two Easter Island-size white heads, with Will’s digitised, eerily lip-synching face intermittently projected onto them. Had the forecasted massive storm surge for this evening threatened to overwhelm London, Will’s big heads could surely have shored up the nearby Thames Barrier.

They blink philosophically, as a huge video backdrop of an absent Justin Bieber wailing away over the euphoric boshing of ‘thatPower’. A disembodied Ke$ha also appears for their characteristically raw and hi-NRG ‘Crazy Kids’, with its jet-engine synth rush. It’s not subtle, but much like the work of Calvin Harris, it makes much more forgivable sense live; his constant exhortations to “go crazy” and “get your hands up” remind you of the limited point of this music.

It’s a shame that momentum isn’t maintained. Not that it seems to be a problem for a dangerously excited crowd, but once the lengthy DJ set in the middle veers into a Nirvana mashup and snatches of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ and The White Stripes’ terrace-chant favourite ‘Seven Nation Army’ it’s all gone a bit like the wedding disco of Captain Obvious and Madame Will-This-Do?

Back at floor level, Will dedicates a Black Eyed Peas medley to his former band, before a strange interlude where he proves his love for technology (he’s a Director Of Creative Innovation at Intel) by er… playing some beats off an iPad while freestyling. Hilariously, he keeps hold of it when Cheryl Cole walks on, making it difficult not to read ‘Heartbreaker’ as an argument between a frustrated woman all dolled up to go out and her boyfriend who won’t ever get off his flipping tablet.

Cheryl, though looking fierce, is sounding a little hoarse, and is shown up by Will’s voice protegee Leah McFall, on a fine rendition of ‘Just Can’t Get Enough’, before Cole, Shelby, McFall, Will and Peas associate Dante Santiago belt out the ever-excruciatingly saccharine ‘Where Is The Love?’. Thank god, then for the encore of ‘Scream & Shout’, with its oh-wee-ohh-ee-ow-eeh-oww refrain and Britney’s giant  face declaiming in a cold European accent. It’s so ridiculously hedonistic it couldn’t be wholly cynical, could it? “WE AIN’T DONE!” screams Will, as the beats redouble. A scientist, perhaps, but at least an endearingly mad one.

Arts and Entertainment
The crowd enjoy Latitude Festival 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
'I do think a woman's place is eventually in the home, but I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.'

Is this the end of the Dowager Countess?tv
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Martin of Coldplay performs live for fans at Enmore Theatre on June 19, 2014 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn