Cheryl Cole, playing her first proper solo concert in London since a successful debut album and Queen of Hearts-style tabloid ubiquity, put more style and energy into an early-evening half hour than most. With six backing dancers, several costume changes and a live singing voice that didn’t wobble, she did nothing to suggest that a major tour all of her own would be a terrible idea.
Cheryl Cole and the Black Eyed peas kick off European tour
She’d have to go some to outdo The Black Eyed Peas for spectacle, though. It’s always fun to see a band on their first tour since they made a serious pile of money. Imagine having unlimited cash to blow in the lighting department of Debenhams.
An elaborate sci-fi fantasy theme was maintained throughout, loaded with lasers and dancers dressed as bees of the future. Chief songwriter will.i.am DJed in a Robocop suit. Rapper Taboo rode Tron’s motorbike high into the audience. Singer Fergie appeared as both a metallic tulip and Xena: Warrior Princess.
The group have paid their dues as a wholesome hip hop trio who, as will.i.am confessed, once thought they were big in London because they played four nights at the Jazz Café. With the addition of Fergie in 2001 and a plunge into electronic pop, four nights at the O2 Arena is only one indication of their hugeness.
In the US last year, between their singles Boom Boom Pow and I Gotta Feeling they held the number one spot for 26 consecutive weeks. Aside from making you wonder what kind of cutting edge music fan only decides they like a song enough to buy it six months after its release, the statistic also suggests that will.i.am has hit upon a sound that is poppier than pop.
His songs are unforgettable, not always in a good way. The playground chanting of Imma Be and My Humps were plain irritating. The concert was exhausting, like being bombarded with the brightest colours imaginable for two breathless hours. Show-stopping moments, such as apl.de.ap rapping in Filipino, and will.i.am composing a freestyle rhyme from text messages sent to the big screen, earned big smiles.
As the confetti fluttered during I Gotta Feeling, a fine tune that will be a disco favourite for years, it was hard to begrudge their omnipresence.