NELLY POPS IN TO BLUESFEST
Ottawa, ON - Festival Plaza
July 14, 2004
Courtesy of the Ottawa Sun
OTTAWA -- Is this the Bluesfest or a Euro-Cup party?
That was the question that kept popping into
my head last night as Canadian pop diva -- and Euro-Cup anthem singer -- Nelly Furtado kept a crowd of 17,858 dancing partyers
pumped up at Festival Plaza.
Fresh from her gala set last weekend at the Prince's Royal Trust concert at Albert Hall,
Furtado breezed through a two-hour set of pop with a decidedly European flavour.
The singer, touring her latest album
Folklore, created a club-like atmosphere, with a heavily layered and produced sound from a huge band featuring live DJ, processed
guitars, keyboards, bass and back-up singers who doubled as cheerleaders.
The crowd was a decidedly young one, with
no interest in the blues per se -- they just wanted to dance with Nelly. And they did, as she opened with One Trick Pony,
Explode, Cry and Fresh From the Boat.
Soundwise, Furtado was on top of her game, with a musical fingerprint that's
all hers, a fusion of hip-hip, pop, and Euro-disco with a little Portuguese and English rap thrown in to spice things up.
The crowd swelled visibly when she broke into a sweet, plaintive chorus of I'm Like a Bird, her first hit from her
debut album Whoa Nelly.
Then, there was a massive soccer-style cheer for the Euro-Cup anthem Forca before closing
with Hey Man and her final encore Powerless.
But in the end, despite all the hand-waving and all the musical muscle,
the gig was a relatively colourless and unconvincing event, on-stage.
From the board, there was little to complain
But for Joe and Jill fan, Furtado's show relied too much on electronica, with a polished pop sound that verged
on becoming robotic.
At times, I got the impression that she was tearing through the set, either to keep the music
rolling or to avoid any real concert back-and-forthing with the audience, saying little more than the occasional "Thanks"
and the odd "C'mon, sing along, I know you know this one."
Opening for Furtado were Toronto soulsters Jacksoul.
band treated a sparse but funky crowd to a down-and-dirty set of '70s soul with Haydain Neale doing a sexually healing tribute
to the sound of his Motown heroes Al Green, Marvin Gaye and Prince from the new Resurrected album.
But for real funky
blues, no one compared to the former street musician Chris Whitley, who turned in a powerfully dramatic solo performance on
the Black Sheep stage.
Whitley, who got his big break when Canadian super-producer Daniel Lanois discovered him busking
on a sidewalk, proved a ghostly image both physically in performance and in song, stamping out a drumbeat with his foot while
accompanying himself with a steel blues guitar.
Whitley proved that when the Bluesfest sticks with the blues, no one
does it better.
NELLY KEEPS FANS HAPPY IN T.O.
Toronto, ON - Molson Amphitheatre
July 15, 2004
Courtesy of JAM! Music
TORONTO -- In 2001, singer Nelly Furtado burst onto the scene with a diverse blend of hip-hop, pop and Latin
By the time she bounced on-stage to "One Trick Pony" at the Molson Amphitheatre last night, the Toronto-based
songbird was out to demonstrate how much she's stretched her vocal talent and choice of styles since her debut album, "Whoa
Touring in support of 2003's "Folklore," her funkadelic opener was followed by the rock-tinged "Explode" in
which she picked up the electric guitar.
Backed by a full band, backup singer and DJ, "Fresh Off The Boat" came next
and found the singer traversing the stage waving and smiling at her fans.
But if songs like "Try" were meant to get
the crowd going, tracks like the introspective "Picture Perfect" were there to rebel against the pop-star image Furtado has
fashioned for herself.
And while she managed to sing in compassionate tones on her smash-hit "I'm Like A Bird," Furtado
made sure fans knew that this show was all about mixing old-school simplicity with Latin grooves and hip-hop beats.
had a throng of teenyboppers dancing in the aisles. Saying she wanted to see how "Toronto dances," the singer invited some
lucky fans to join her onstage to shake themselves to a musical medley that sampled R & B and Latin.
But the loudest
screams came during Furtado's celebratory "Forca."
Portuguese flags were being waved about in total abandon and beach
balls were being thrown around near the front while the crowd gladly helped sing the chorus.
"Powerless (Say What
You Want)" closed the 75-minute show in what amounted to a carnival of energy and new-age party music.
DJ Lal and
Juno-nominated Shaye opened the show.
After a brief set from Lal, East Coast-based trio Shaye, comprised of Kim Stockwood,
Damhnait Doyle and Tara McLean, matched a multi-layered sound with a strong vocal performance.
Whether trying to rock
out on tracks like "On And On," or attempting to evoke the broken musical landscape from which they were born on "How The
West Was Won," Shaye proved to be a band Canadians should listen for.