(Detroit Opera House, Detroit, MI – June 11th, 2007)
Tonight, here at the grand Detroit Opera House there weren't any attendees sporting tuxedos or evening gowns; no diamonds and champagne flutes to be seen spending time together. No, tonight it was the chance for a Canadian singer / songwriter, record producer, and instrumentalist of Portuguese descent to pack the auditorium out ... with screaming young girls and overly-enthusiastic, and slightly-older boys!
Watching as the music struck up, and as a giant glitterball descended center stage, you kinda had this feeling that the diminutive musician could so easily have sprung forth from it. But, it wasn't until the ball was slowly raised back up once again that she was revealed to be standing behind it, back to the crowd, allowing the beats to begin their funky journey through her.
Sporting a short red dress with black leggings, and both shoes and belt in yellow, the songbird comes to greet her beloved fans, a genuine smile on her face that never, ever left the entire night. Kicking off with 'Say It Right,' ("Detroit," she announces. "How are you tonight?"} she quickly follows with 'Turn Off The Light,' 'Powerless,' and a red hot ("I've got a question for you. Do you feel like dancing? I do," she adds) 'Do It,' complete with her two female dancers attired in bright yellow '50s swimsuits!
Tapping into a cozy variety of musical modes such as '80s new wave, hip-hop, informal balladry, and of course world beats, she next brings us 'Wait For You' which bleeds seamlessly into red spot-lit 'Showtime.' Complete with dancers - with respect to both their moves and their costumes - that wouldn't look out of place at a Dinner Theater rendition of Guys & Dolls or even West Side Story, accompanied by just a guitar and tambourine, she brings forth a wonderful acoustic vamp of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy.' The track 'In God's Hands' is next, performed for the most part whilst she sits alone on the top step with a white spot illuminating her, before she freely announces that "Detroit was the first show that I ever performed. Thank you, Detroit", following her statement up with 'All Good Things.'
Joined front stage by singers Jasmine and Socrates, rousing renditions of Timberlake's 'SexyBack' and her own 'Give It To Me' (both complete with yet another costume switch, this time into an all-black affair) take the crowd's screams to a whole new level. "We're gonna go way back now," she herself screams, as the band strike up a new jazzy, nu-funk intro vibe to 'I'm Like A Bird' ... which, it has to be said, was clearly not originally built for such a pounding back beat. Lit by a pink and yellow set of lights, 'Blue Jeans' is next, complete with the addition of a disco-version of Blondie's 'Heart Of Glass.'
Nelly's ode to futbol [soccer, therein] 'Força' is next, complete with each of the four dancers kicking out plastic soccer balls into the crowd. At the songs end, Nelly signs - and kisses - a real ball and gently hands it over to a young child in the audience. Bringing the set to a close with a roaring 'Promiscuous,' she eventually waves gleefully goodbye, proclaiming as she does so, "Thank you Detroit. We love you."
To some very loud screams, Nelly's name comes up in lights on the large back drop. This is quickly followed by her arrival back to the stage wearing the last costume change of the night, a beautiful short purple dress for 'No Hay Igual.' Then showing off her infamous musical chirping Vs. a drummer trying to keep up [which he did], she brings us 'Party's Just Begun.' Ending with a simply rip-roaring, stand alone version of 'Maneater' the finale song - full of exhaustive dancing, bright lights, colorful costumes, and so much more - it's all that this crowd needed to finally go home completely satisfied.
Review by Russell A. Trunk
Photos by Chris Schwegler