I Love the 90s @ Arena Birmingham – 7 October 2017

Posted by Zyllah Moranne-Brown on Saturday Oct 7, 2017 Under 90s

Review by Hayley Clark with photography by Frank Ralph.

As an eighties baby I was always too young to see any of the I Love The 90s stars when they came to the UK, the teasing of car radio adverts for the US leg of the tour days after I was due to leave the Florida sunshine didn’t consolidate me either.  So when the UK dates were announced the little girl inside of me was more excited than the Pointer Sisters with a Crunchie! And boy was it everything I’d expected and more in the final show of the UK dates!

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The nostalgic late eighties/early nineties period or hip hop and RnB held a place in the heart for many of the shell suit stridden crowd, donned with Blu Cantrell esq bandanas and dungarees some of them were merely a twinkle in their parents eyes yet this showed the impact this soundtrack of classic anthems appealed to so many on a level.

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The newly named Arena Birmingham hosted the I Love the 90s dance party with four hour long music marathon, Young MC hyping the crowd up ready for Tone Loc and his husky vocals of ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Funky Cold Medina’.

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The arena filled up with wild calls and coos as naughty nineties favourites Colour Me Badd adorned the stage to the infectious beat of their number one track “All 4 Love”. The bustling crowd went wild as the opening lines “tick tock you don’t stop” boomed and their most notorious track from the New Jack City soundtrack started to boom through the speakers. Anyone who has heard of the American four piece remembers their steamy debut track, leaving parents red faced at their little darlings belting out unknowing the meanings of the catchy lyrics when it spend three weeks as number one and as the temperatures and voices raised the harmonies of ‘I Wanna Sex U Up’ were as good live as back in the day on my old Sony Walkman trying hard not to let my parents hear me.

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As videos of throwback jams entertained the crowd between acts strobe lights furiously flashed, dressed in sportswear with trademark hair poked through his cap rap superstar Coolio asked his adoring fans, “do you wanna go for a ride??… Then get yo ass in the trunk, I mean boot” correcting himself to his UK audience.

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With a rapturous reaction  and the crowd putting up their hands the producer and actor straight outta Compton had the biggest reaction of the night so far in his short set. The poignant, “C U when I get there” with dedications to Aaliyah, Left Eye and even Princess Diana slowed down the night complete with saxophonist Jarel Pozey on the horn adding to the sultry sounds. Conjuring up the spirits the 54 year old called out rap heroes Dre, Snoop and Ms Dynamite, even throwing in an impersonation of the latter U. K female underground superstar as he burst into foot stamping track, ‘1234’ encouraging the crowd to move and jump about.

With Stevie Wonders samples there was only one encore that the superstar could complete this stomping set with, the award winning best selling single of 1995, with two MTV video awards, a Grammy  and a Billboard music award for best song  it was ‘Gangsters Paradise’ which some say opened people so eyes to the talents he possessed. The recognisable tune filled the air as the crowd went wild swaying  from side to side to the beat nostalgically singing along like a church choir as Coolio paced the stage left to right before exiting to cries wanting more.

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The temperature in the arena started to sizzle as the intro credits appeared on the big screen, multi award nominations and winners of Grammy, MTV awards and VH1 hip hop honouree this New York trio set the arena ablaze as the screaming audience were transported back to their inner child. It’s hard to believe that 31 years ago this trio of temptresses, Salt n Pepa rocked into the music industry and paved the way as inspiration for future female artists in the game, Pepa clad in thigh high boots and a raunchy hot pants and sparkling bra had hardly aged alongside Salt, compete with
a jacket emblazoned “badass”, you could feel the yang and yang between the pair and how it worked so well complete with the elegant Spinderella perched high above on the decks.

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These ladies did not disappoint one bit with Salt acknowledging the adoring audience and apologizing for getting them I  trouble when they were younger asking them to talk and about sex and push it good  and declaring proudly it’s not a show but the “Salt n Pepa experience”.

Complete with Adidas clad backing dancers playfully whipping off their shirts and pouring water down their toned bodies hit after hit emerged from the stage, from ‘Express yourself’ to bringing audience members on stage for their cover of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’  they were completely right about being an experience. The audience screamed through the roof as Spinderella cut it up one time to “let’s talk about sex”, before entertaining with crowd fillers “Shoop” and Coolio coming on stage with male audience members to be serenaded by the classic “Whatta Man”.

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After an emotional break on stage with Salt acknowledging her band mates the night drew to a close, as the ladies donned their trademark jackets I was blasted back to the millennial start and eighties night at Rosie’s Solihull. The last Thursday of the month it was held and this jam was the only thing guaranteed to make you bust some moves on the dance floor, no matter if you were drunk or felt sad or just didn’t want to, as soon as you heard the opening bars to “Push It” there was no stopping you. As an anthem for most 80s babies the crowd wanted more as Salt thanked the crowd for the last thirty one years she left Pepa on the stage to give the audience some sturdy advice with “None of your business”.

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Worthy of a headline slot they audience were left in the heavens as a short break formed before 90s rapper Vanilla Ice jumped onto the stage complete with a  confetti cannon ladened show and some scary looking dancers he burst into “Ninja rap” which I had forgotten about the track from the Ninja turtles film he starred in. Trying hard to engage with the audience he reminisced of owning a cassette deck and going to Blockbusters for a film instead of Netflix he brought on audience members for his most memorable track “Ice Ice Baby”.

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As the evening came to an end, Robert Van Winkle pulled out hit after hit  ‘Paper Planes’, ‘No Woman No Cry’ and ‘Play that funky music’ before sexing the stage up with Ginuwine smash ‘Pony’ to grab the fading audiences attention.  The influence of Bob Marley shone through as he climaxed the night with ‘Redemption Song’ proving that Vanilla Ice is more than just a one hit wonder, he can sing covers too.

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For more images from tonight’s gig check out our Flickr page.

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