All photos courtesy of Paul Hutchins- who has a kickin Flickr site…
You know, after seeing Sam Sparro live at the iTunes festival in London, the only thing I can say about his amazing performance is that he truly lives up to that old gay cliche of "being a big ol black woman trapped in a gay man’s body". It’s true – I can’t quite stop thinking this for a few days after his performance.
Being one of the artists on the up and up is a tough job, but Sam delivered his live show with might and ease on Monday night at the packed-out Koko in London’s legendary Camden Town area. Opening with his new single "21st Century Life", Sam and his band and backing vocalists whipped up a frenzy in the crowd. However Sam wasn’t the only entertainer on the stage. His three backing vocalists were full of spunk and huge personality and were remarkably quite mesmerizing to watch during the performance. Each with a huge "S", "A" and "M" emblazoned on their choir-gal mu-mus, they bounced well off Sam the entire night and I couldn’t help but find myself laughing along to their antics with Sam.
Sam’s choice of wardrobe always seems to disappoint me (except that time he appeared on the cover of Attitude Magazine) but I didn’t seem to mind that he came out in an over-sized 80’s style cut-off sweater and pink/black checkered trousers. Mr. Sam Sparro has muscles everyone – did you see them? Wow. And the boy has some real charisma on-stage. Perhaps Sam has been overdoing it on the wii Fit lately because he jazzercized and bounced his way across the stage all night, jumping up and down proudly when delivering almost all of the songs off his self-titled album. I was a bit disappointed that Sam didn’t sing "Sally" though – it’s one of my favourites on his first collection of tracks. However he made up for it by singing a few covers throughout the night like Estelle’s "American Boy" very early on, which is a song you can tell Sam likes quite a lot. And such a good boy he is – he didn’t change the words at all.
The best section of the show was when Sam picked up his "rocket-red" keytair and belted out "Sick" and "Pocket" back-to-back with no pause in-between. I never really listened to "Sick" carefully before but I found myself enthralled in it’s lyrics after seeing it live. "It’s a sick, sick world and I’ll be your medicine". That’s pretty cool. And, but of course, I went absolutely ape-shit when Sam sang "Pocket". A song that has been at the top of the EQ Chart for a few weeks now and if he doesn’t release this track as a single, I will be, well let’s just say, pretty cheesed off. A few of my fellow concert goers were quite surprised that I knew all the words to this song too. It was an EQ karoke moment if ever there was one. I was in fine form.
The show closed with "Black And Gold" and it was a stomper. It sounds so good live and Koko was lit up and on fire throughout this song. But in my opinion, this wasn’t the best part of the night. After performing this #2 UK smash hit, Sam left for his diva encore and came back after a few minutes to entertain us with a little bit more that we all wanted. But what was Sam going to sing? After all, he’d pretty much sang the whole album including "Cottonmouth" (which isn’t my favourite track in case you didn’t know) at this point…Well he surprised us all and went into a medley of Blackbox’s "Ride On Time" and Crystal Water’s "Gyspy Woman/She’s Homeless" Fucking, fucking amazing! The energy was high. You could just bottle it. And with that performance as an encore, I truly, truly believe that Sam Sparro is a big ol black woman trapped in a gay man’s body. He is so much so this cliche that he needs three big ol black women on stage with him at all times so that the electro/funk soul can engulf you entirely. Go and see a Sam Sparro show if you can. Don’t expect it to be all serious and shit – you’re there to have fun and bounce and it’s no wonder that the UK loves Sam so much. We need to bounce more often.
So what about Annie you ask? Annie was great. I am not a huge fan of Annie, but I realise that a certain record company are pumping a lot of money into her and after hearing some songs from her new album, I’d say I’m much more interested in her now.
So let’s evaluate…why I think Annie is getting cooler and cooler…
- The only Annie song I was really familiar with before this show was "Chewing Gum" and I just love that little pop number and Annie decided to open her set with it. Fabu.
- "Heartbeat" was amazing. Just amazing.
- She sang some song that asked the question "What Do You Want For Breakfast?" and I thought that was rather peculiar…and I really really like peculiar so she wins points there.
- "I Know UR Girlfriend Hates Me" is just pure pop bliss – sounded good loud too!
The only thing I didn’t really like about Annie’s opening set and she’ll need to improve upon this if she wants to be in the same ranks as, let’s say…Robyn, was this… Annie – you need to be a little more animated. It’s ok to raise your arms above your head and for you dance around a bit. Go crazy, let go girl! Show us some energy. These peeps love you girl and you have some beyond great electropop songs. I’m a fan now. Gimme gimme some more Annie.
Ok done. Overall had a great time at the iTunes festival and wasn’t even that bothered when the rude doorman threw away much food in my bag. Gosh, it wasn’t like I was gonna throw my carrot and hummus sandwich on the stage for crying out loud. The venue needs to chill out about that.
Team Sam Sparro – thanks for a great show y’all!
Check out this "Black & Gold" footage from the actual show and make sure to download some of the official footage from iTunes!