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12th October 2022

Review: 90s Baby Classical

The Mancunion reviews 90s Baby Classical, a nostalgic night of dance hits, at the Albert Hall
Review: 90s Baby Classical
Photo: Jay Darcy @ The Mancunion

An orchestral 90s rave is not something you come across everyday…

JBM Music is killing it right now. Whilst one might imagine their focus is on the stellar 90s Baby Pop tour – especially the gigantic Manchester date – they are putting on numerous other events all around the country (including five this past weekend)!

90s Baby Classical, at Albert Hall in Manchester, features “the biggest hits of the 90s performed live by a 17-piece orchestra” – with live performances from Alison Limerick, Baby D, Livin’ Joy ft Luzahnn, Phats & Small, and Rozalla.

The event was a late one. It started at 8pm, with last entry being 9pm, and went on until 1am.

Minto had a DJ set from 8-10:15pm, which was made up of fun house music and 90s hits. It was a great opening set that got everyone in the mood, but come 10:15pm, I was tired.

From 10:15-11pm, the Elemental Orchestra had their first set. The orchestra featured three singers (a man and two women), who sang some of the most famous 90s hits – with special guest appearances from Livin’ Joy ft. Luzahnn (who sang ‘Don’t Stop Movin’) and Rozalla (who closed the set with ‘Are You Ready to Fly?’).

Luzahnn was great, but 90s Baby attracts the biggest 90s stars so it’s a little surprising that they had Luzahnn (essentially a Livin’ Joy tribute act) join the line-up when they could have easily had one of the actual Livin’ Joy singers: Janice Robinson and her replacement Tameko Star (the latter of which sang ‘Don’t Stop Movin’ and still tours as Livin’ Joy). That said, Luzahnn had us dreaming and made sure we did not stop movin!

From 11pm-00:10am, Phats & Small took to the stage for a dazzling DJ set, in which the latter sang along to huge 90s and 00s hits – beginning with the duo’s own ‘Turn Around’.

Then, the Elemental Orchestra returned for the main event. The first special performance came from Baby D (not the entire group, just Dee Feron – who, confusingly, is also known as Baby D). Baby D had us all grooving and grinding when she sang the sensual ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’.

Hilariously, I tried to tag Baby D on my story, but Instagram would not let me because she has repeatedly violated their rules regarding Covid and vaccine misinformation! Regardless, it was a fun performance.

Later, Rozalla returned to sing her signature song, ‘Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)’. This had to be my favourite performance of the night.

The first song of the encore was ‘Where Love Lives (Come On In)’ by Alison Limerick – this seemed to be the performance that many in the audience had been waiting for. Alison was so incredibly energetic; even before she started singing, she was moving and grooving around the stage, filling that incredibly long instrumental opening with lots of sass.

This was followed by another performance by Livin’ Joy ft. Luzahnn; this time, she sang the band’s first (and biggest) hit, ‘Dreamer’ (which was originally sang by Janice Robinson).

The third (and final) song of the encore allowed the orchestra to shine once more with Gala‘s ‘Freed from Desire’.

A rave with 90s artists accompanied by a 17-piece orchestra is ambitious, but it somehow works. The orchestra added new life and soul to the classic 90s hits; it produced a weird, wonderful mix of nostalgia and rejuvenation.

From the artists to the audience, the energy was electric. I really liked the mix of ages in the audience; there were people in their early 20s (like me), and people old enough to be our grandparents!

I do think that the event might have benefited from being a little earlier as a lot of people had left before the second Elemental Orchestra set.

I also wonder if it might have been better to have given the Elemental Orchestra one long set, followed by a performance by Phats & Small. Indeed, their DJ set was what you would expect at the end of the night; by the time their set came to an end, I felt like I was ready to go home.

The other criticism I have is the repetition of songs. There were three main artists: Minto, the Elemental Orchestra, and Phats & Small. They might have communicated with each other – or the event organisers might have communicated with each act – to make sure that songs were not repeated. I know everyone gets a kick out of playing Robin S‘ ‘Show Me Love’ (and the audience always goes wild), but hearing it more than once on a night out is overkill.

Other than that, it was a wicked, nostalgic night that took me back to, well, before I was even born! The orchestra is incredibly talented, and the special guest appearances were fantastic (even Luzahnn). I already look forward to hearing the line-up for the next 90s Baby Classical.

Be sure to check out JBM Music’s upcoming events – most of which are in Manchester! The next 90s Baby event in Manchester is, of course, 90s Baby Pop at AO Arena. Whilst 90s Baby Pop is touring the UK with 11 huge 90s acts, there are 12 additional acts at the Manchester date – including headliners, Aqua! The show runs from 2PM until 11AM.

Jay Darcy

Jay Darcy

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

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