*These days, you cannot afford to invest much in the comeback of your favourite artists from yesteryear. The risk can be too high that the years will have taken their toll – the tax being paid in some addiction or other. But with En Vogue, who had been through several line-up changes, there was no deficit in talent. The DJ had already warmed the crowd up with hits from the nineties including Mary J Blige, Cypress Hill and Zhane. The lonely instruments on the stage promised a live band and heightened the chances of a good show.
With trepid anticipation the crowd lingered on every word of the hosts’ introduction to the original members: Cindy Herron, Terry Ellis, Maxine Jones and Dawn Robinson. In no time at all, they reminded us what we had missed for the past eighteen years – sheer class!
Dressed in black and shimmering in sparkles, the ladies were dripping with undeniable talent. A guy from their native Oakland, US commanded: “You better sing”, but this instruction is superfluous.
Looking and sounding as if time had stood still, collectively and individually they froze you with their vocal range and spine tingling harmonies. They defrosted any despair with today’s lacklustre artistry with their authenticity and ability to share leads effortlessly.
Having won seven MTV Video Music Awards and received Seven Grammy nominations, they had endless material to showcase their range and shone passionately on classics such as Hold On, My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Free Your Mind, the Curtis Mayfield penned Giving Him Something He Can Feel and Don’t Let Go (Love). With an absent Salt and Pepa, the quartet delivered a spiced up version of Whatta Man their 1993 duet. This seamlessly mixed into Don’t Mess With My Man, Robinson’s 1997 hit with Lucy Pearl.
Musical gems were sandwiched in between a range of En Vogue hits drawn from a plethora of Stax and Motown classics such as Rufus and Chaka Khan’s Tell Me Something Good, Aretha Franklin’s Respect, Anita Ward’s Ring My Bell, Cheryl Lynn’s Got to Be Real, Labelle’s Lady Marmalade and my favourite; a rendition of Tina Turner’s Rolling On The River – moves and all!
The moves were in sync and energy and chemistry on stage seemed to represent a sisterhood and chemistry that has endured, making the show all the more enjoyable. They paid homage to the classic eras of soul and R&B that Ultimate Boogie Nights represent in a way that seals their status in the Hall of Fame.
Some Facebook commentators, in astonishment at their return, have already suggested that it was a tribute band on stage on 21 October but be warned, with new management, signed to a new label and a new single due this year, impersonators beware, En Vogue are the real deal and they’re back – still an inspiration!
The UK Corner covers urban entertainment from a British perspective and is written by Fiona McKinson. She is a freelance journalist and creative writer based in London. Contact her at [email protected]