*Following PAs by Cherri V, Raymond & Co and Cynthia Erivo, at 9.45pm, fans may have feared that Fantasia wasn’t going to provide value for money but her set made the hour and 15 minutes that she was on stage seem elastic.
In an understated summer dress, Fantasia left the little black dress to her backing singer and kicked off her shoes though she temporarily left on her bling. Her comfortable look may fuel rumours that she is pregnant, but the way she bounced around the stage until her petticoat was showing may suggest otherwise.
Opening the set with Free Yourself followed by Man of The House, Fantasia soon had the crowd energised. With her warm and humorous girl next door attitude, Fantasia gibed about the security railings which separated the fans from the stage saying that she had threatened to walk off stage the last time she saw them.
She was in no mood for distance as she launched in the Motown tinged Collard Greens and Cornbread. This only got the crowd hungry for more of her heartfelt soul. Her facial expressions alone proved how much passion Fantasia was putting into her performance.
iPads and mobile phones tried to capture the moments but Fantasia has talent that is uncontainable. I entered the gig not knowing what to expect. Being impressed by her first two albums and her performance on American Idol, after all the gossip I’d seen about her online, I had forgotten what had made her famous.
What was special about her set was the sprinkling of odes to the music she had a personal connection with. From fragments of SWV’s Rain to Missy’s I Can’t Stand the Rain. This meteorological theme may symbolise the torrential weathering that Fantasia has endured.
But as in life Fantasia played on emotionally singing autobiographical material such as I’m His Only Woman through trembling lips. Fantasia came determined to satisfy all extremes of her diverse audience so it should perhaps be no surprise that she performed Prince’s Kiss. This was the perfect soundtrack to her jamming session and reason enough to kick off her shoes.
With the party truly started, she continued with her own material including the popular When I See You. Acknowledging those in the audience who like to be coy in showing their appreciation, Fantasia was underscored by her first cousins K-Ci and JoJo’s Get On Up, which was mixed with Overnight Scenario. This was followed by a snippet of Soul II Soul’s Back to Life.
Fantasia’s vocals were superb and all the more uplifting to hear knowing she had survived a tumour on her vocal cords. Despite the odd sound problem, she shined as she continued with Teach Me and more jokes! She easily built a rapport with the crowd who were moved by her stirring rendition of Bob Marley’s No Woman No Cry, which was all too short.
But Fantasia has her own quality material to perform not least the Grammy award winning Bittersweet, which won her the Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance this year. Having arrived on stage with Grammy in hand, Fantasia had set the tone for an outstanding night.
Before the night was out she promised to take the audience to church and with I’m Doing Me, she did, after proclaiming that she no longer lives her life for folk! Her songs take on quite the confessional edge and she professed that she did not need a microphone as she gave her testimony. She really brought the house down when with a tearful and spine-tingling rendition of Even Angels.
To warm us up, Fantasia took us back to her first album to get up-tempo. Though she professed that the men in the audience may not like the song, she committed to her performance of Baby mama to the delight of the women in the audience. Perhaps to win the men back over, she sought a man to hold her, but when the offers came in she shied away saying she was ‘scarred’!
She briefly went back to her Idol days with a too short performance of Summertime but as a silver lining to this cloud, her next song was the hit single Hood Boy. Having earlier hinted to her opposition to being separated from her fans, Fantasia got off stage to take photos and sing directly in front of the first row.
This was a polished set; Fantasia’s only failing was that she did not name check her extensive band featuring (two male and one female) backing singers, two keyboardists, a drummer, a guitarist, a trumpeter and a saxophonist, who like sorcerers, further fuelled the magic.
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]. For more entertainment visit her blog: http://www.thetalentshow.co.uk/theukcorner/