Trey Songz at the Hammersmith Apollo
“Do you love me?” asked the 28-year-old Virginia-born casanova of R ‘n’ B, Trey Songz, mere minutes after taking the stage at the famed Hammersmith venue. The crazed affirmative response came as no surprise. This was the second of three sold-out London shows, and the pulsating audience, comprised mostly of insatiable teens and some equally excited older ladies, showed no sign of wavering in their sometimes rabid adoration for the (quite literally) glistening star.
Accompanied by an enthusiastic backing band and obligatory rambunctious backing dancers, it was clear that Mr Songz was setting up for two hours of unadulterated seduction, with a few “bread-and-butter-beats” thrown in to satisfy the boyfriends. Proudly clad in a Michael Jackson-inspired biker jacket, Songz controlled the audience with endearingly charismatic hubris. The lower the zip on his jacket went, the shriller the screams became. The higher and longer the Usher-influenced vocal ran, the lower the audience’s hearts fell. This was the work of a pro.
Sadly, this dedication to aesthetic tended to undermine the musical fluidity, resulting in ten minutes of indulgence with more striptease than audible evidence for such huge commercial success. Mid-way through the set, the confident singer was lowered below the stage, slowly removing his shirt as he went, whipping the audience into a frenzy, with impassioned booing at his departure. The time-filling projected clip that followed can only be described as unabashed pandering: black and white footage of the singer in various stages of female-assisted uncouthness, verging on the vulgar. Not for the faint of heart.
Just as the peacock display was being worked to infinitum, the “chanteur” burst back onstage with falsetto and vigour to the kinetic second single Simply Amazing, injecting a much needed bolt of energy. Things carried on improving with two more comparatively electronic tracks, their potency supported by generous strobe lighting. However, no light shone as bright as the eyes of the devoted young fan selected to join Songz onstage. “I do this all for you, the fans. You love me and I love you,” he claimed, anointing the shaking girl with his gold neck-chain and sweaty tank-top. And boy, did she and the rest of the 3,000 devotees believe him.
Although Songz’ lyrics claimed he, “only came here for the b****** and the drinks,” behind his lack of tact and subtlety, it’s clear there is a mutual respect and symbiotic need between the fan and idol that no momentary mic failure, or need for musical edge can taint. Without encore, Songz left the stage with a victorious message: “I feel amazing”. And by the looks on his fans’ faces leaving the show, so did they.
Photos: Helen Parish
Watch the video for Simply Amazing here: