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26th March 2020

Live Review: Kisstory presents The Blast Off! Tour at Manchester Arena

Theatre Editor Jay Darcy reviews Kisstory presents The Blast Off! Tour at Manchester Arena, which featured the likes of Nelly and Shaggy
Live Review: Kisstory presents The Blast Off! Tour at Manchester Arena
Nelly. Photo: Jay Darcy @ The Mancunion.

Kisstory’s The Blast Off! Tour is an arena tour featuring 90s and 00s R’n’B, Garage, and Hip Hop stars — but is it a celebration of old school music, a mission to relaunch the careers of artists, or just a ploy to make money?

The first acts were the UK Garage All-Stars. ‘With a Little Bit of Luck’, DJ Luck & MC Neat got us “through the night”, or at least, to the next act: MC DT, who was entertaining but not memorable.

Sweet Female Attitude brought us ‘Flowers’, along with slightly off-key vocals but an enjoyable performance.

Oxide & Neutrino ‘Bound [us] 4 Da Reload’, before being joined by So Solid Crew bandmates, Lisa Maffia and MC Romeo. They performed Maffia’s ‘All Over’ and Romeo’s ‘Romeo Dunn’, before ending with a performance of a So Solid Crew hit that I wish was ’21 Seconds’ longer.

Ironically, the artist I was most excited for was a) the only headliner whose photo was not on the poster and b) the only one I was disappointed by: Blu Cantrell, who sang tracks including the 2003 single ‘Breathe.

Cantrell’s once-great vocals were ironically at times far too breathy, meanwhile her song ‘Make Me Wanna Scream’ became all-too real. Still, she gave it her all, expressing excitement to be there. I’m certainly still a Blu fan.

She was followed by pop Princess Mýa, whose hits include ‘Case of the Ex (Whatcha Gonna Do)’. She finished with ‘Lady Marmalade’ – her Moulin Rouge! song, though sadly without the track’s original featured artists Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim and P!nk. Her look, outfit, vocals and dance-moves were all on-point.

After this, host Fatman Scoop gave in to the audience’s chants and performed ‘Be Faithful’. I guess he’d never heard “love like this before” and could not possibly refuse our plea. He got everyone, not just the “single ladies”, to “make noise”.

Eve blew our minds and had us agreeing that “Eve’s that girl” with her fierce and feisty set. With an outfit completed by gloves, and her hair in a blonde bob, she made sure we knew she was a ‘Rich Girl’.

Salt-N-Pepa (‘Shoop’, ‘Whatta Man’) ‘push[ed] it’ (and boundaries) “real good” with their energetic performance, ‘Talking About Sex’ and defying odds and expectations about what female singers should be like once they hit 50. They and their cohort were dressed in bright red, adding lots of ketchup to Salt-N-Pepa, offering a real mouthful of a performance!

They were joined by the award-winning DJ Cocoa Chanelle, who deserves a special mention; she did some of the best mixing I’ve ever heard. I’m thrilled Salt-N-Pepa gave her the chance to showcase her talent, and even fans of Salt-N-Pepa’s original DJ, Spinderella, will love Chanelle. This set was my favourite of the night.

Shaggy’s (‘Angel’) catchphrase might be ‘It Wasn’t Me’, but if you were to ask who had the most fun and enjoyable set of the night, it certainly was the “very fantastic” Mr. Boombastic. Shaggy is an artist I never knew I wanted to see.

Ending the night was superstar Nelly, who took us on a ride with him, hopping from hit to hit. He made it so ‘Hot in Herre’ that we all wanted to “take off our clothes”.

Some girls did. And threw their underwear onstage. But let’s say no more.

Nelly’s performance of ‘Dilemma’ was especially nostalgic and had me agreeing with Kelly Rowland: “Nelly, I love you, I do”.

The show’s backing vocalists, dancers and DJ’s all deserve praise. Playing the music videos for many of the songs enhanced the nostalgia, and I liked how enlarged videos of the live performances were projected on to the screen above the stage, instead of the screens at the sides of the stage, which can be a real neck-twister to watch!

I was pleasantly surprised by how young the audience was, and Channelle told me directly that they love seeing young people enjoying old school hip hop.

Kisstory certainly blast us off with this performance. I found it superior to the similar (but much cheesier) We Love the 90’s!, which had too many acts and no breaks in between them. Plus, Fatman Scoop made a much better host than Pat Sharp.

To answer my opening question: Kisstory brought back throwbacks who no longer do arena tours on their own and offered a naughty night of nineties and noughties nostalgia – and made lots of well-earned money in the process!


Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

Theatre Editor. Instagram & Twitter: @jaydarcy7. Email: [email protected].

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