FIFTEEN years later than originally planned, I joined hundreds of other 30-somethings for two hours of Craig David nostalgia at the Ritz this week.
“Craig David? Is he still making music?” was the response from even my dad.
It’s clear that following early success with albums Born To Do It and Slicker Than Your Average, came an increase in cheese and decrease in credibility, not to mention Bo Selecta. My dad had a good point. What on earth could a Craig David concert offer in 2013?
What’s Your Flava? for starters.
The crowd sang along to every word. Yes, even “Hot fudge sauce on the soles of my Timberlands”.
Clad head to toe in crisp white garms, a lean looking Craig bounded onto the stage to one of his most recognised tracks as the crowd sang along to every word. Yes, even “Hot fudge sauce on the soles of my Timberlands”.
Time To Party and Hidden Agenda followed before Craig nipped off stage for what could only be a costume change given the paint on effect of his sweat-saturated shirt. The boy had already put in a serious amount of energy to the show, just three songs in, and deserved a shirt change. Except he didn’t get changed at all.
Three minutes later he reappeared, exactly the same as before. And this happened several times throughout the show. Disappearing and reappearing.
Back in the day I might have thought he was off to shape and perfect his beard, but the beard is long gone these days, along with the sculptured hair balls and beanies. A 32-year-old Craig is much more refined. Slicker than your average, some might say.
Walking away to then reappear and sing Walking Away was the only time it made any sense. While it may be easy to mock Craig David – I found myself bursting into fits of giggles every time he delivered his trademark ‘16 bars’ of crap rap – there’s no doubt that Craig is an excellent vocalist. This was demonstrated on this particular track and then again on a track called Less Is More from his upcoming album.
While everyone was probably hoping he didn’t bother with any new material because his last few attempts at a chart comeback had been futile, Less Is More was a pleasant surprise.
It was Craig David doing what he’s good at – smooth, singalong, RnB/pop songs. He’s learnt not to dabble with dance (Insomnia anyone?) or stray too far from his trademark crooning by trying to be too cool. Less really is more Craig. Stick to it.
Continuing with the hits (and there really are a lot more than I’d remembered) Craig gave a shout out to his old pal Sting on Rise And Fall. A bizarre and totally random rendition of Alicia Keys’ Empire State Of Mind by Craig’s backing singer ensued while he went off stage to do nothing again.
On a side note, if singers (including Alicia Keys herself) do insist on doing a cover of this song, they really need to stop trying to replace the lyrics “New Yooork” with “Man-chest-errrr”. It’s one syllable too long, doesn’t work and you sound stupid.
Back to Craig David and no sooner had his backing singer finished cramming in the syllables, a team of burly men were wheeling out what appeared to be a DJ booth onto the stage with the initials TS5 on the front of it. Craig, now with headphones round his neck went on to explain how he has house parties every Friday night back at his pad in Miami which are broadcasted on Kiss radio in the UK.
“Let’s bring Miami to Manchester tonight” he shouted looking out to his ‘living room’ – to be fair the Ritz is probably the same size.
The next 20 minutes were DJ Craig David in the mix. It was odd at first but a lot of fun and he certainly enjoyed every minute, singing over the songs he was spinning with intermittent re-e-winds. This was Craig David in his element, back in his teenage bedroom in Southampton, before the fame and fortune. Before Bo Selecta.
Ending with the tracks that made him one of the UK’s most successful male solo exports (Rewind, Seven Days and Fill Me In) Craig took photos of the full house on his iPhone and posted them on Twitter straight away, thanking the crowd for their continued support. It was a night of unexpectedly good music and gratitude.
Like fondue actually. Cheesy, communal pleasure.
Follow Lynda on Twitter @lyndamoyo
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