Review by Hayley Clark with Photography by Bianca Barrett

It’s possible to say the crowd that were going wild, hearing hit after hit from Janelle Monáe at the Academy, however, I feel that would be a discredit to this icon. Manchester saw how much more this icon gives in terms of music, bringing anthems of honesty, rebellion and love, lifting up the crowd with her immense stage presence and colourful emotive pictures.

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The ‘Dirty Computer’ tour hit Manchester for the opening night of just three UK dates, the electric lady did not disappoint. The crowd erupted as the stage flashed vibrantly as porters wheeled a body onto the stage. The stage flickered and like a pixie Janelle appeared prominently centre of stage on top of three perspex steps kicking off the magical evening with the catchy ‘Crazy, Classic, Life’ and ‘Take A Byte’ dressed like a general sent from galaxies unknown with a mission to impose the vision of ‘you can be whoever you want to be’. Accompanied by energetic dancers and a full band they created a powerful stage set.

Don’t let the Moonlight and Hidden Figures actress’s petit frame lure you into a false state, she is fierce in every way! She captivated the diverse crowd from all walks of life to instantly sing along to the poppy track ‘Screwed’ before a throne appeared on the stage for ‘Django Jane’ spitting out the lyrics Monáe enthralling the crowd with her “Black girl magic” as they fall deeper into her spell, tears of joy running down grown women’s faces and youths screaming in excitement.

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There was no need for masses of interaction as the stunning singers words were powerful enough addressing the crowd “Manchester! This whole experience is about love, some of you need to know how I like to love, happy pride! Some of you snuck out of your homes to be here tonight and if you came here alone you need to know you are brave and I love you.” Leaving the venue in hysteria as the poignant words rang through the air.

Dirty Computer is the main focus for the tour but the audience were also treated to some old school Janelle classics from both The Electric Lady’ and ‘The ArchAndroid’. ‘Q.U.E.E.N’ and ‘Primetime’ featured as treats keeping the crowd rocking, the latter featuring a spine tingling guitar solo of ‘Purple Rain’ just one of the many nods to her late mentor as well as the stars lighting up the stage with galaxy projected upon the backdrop and the raspberry beret she donned, a subtle yet fitting tribute.

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The dirty funk fuelled beat of ‘Make Me Feel’ and lady parts trouser clad ‘PYNK’ emphasised how much of a phenomenon she is, the raw talent Janelle oozes with slick dance moves, rhymes, pure vocal talent and the ability to leave the audience a gasp in admiration throughout the whole 16 track set list. Her quirky style, powerful lyrics and the ability to address most current topics others may class as taboo, show how she is a role model to many, whether it be human rights, the president or intergalactic love, speaking out about anything isn’t classed as wrong and everyone is treated with the same respect they show others and free to be whoever they choose.

Bringing onto the stage four fans to a rousing applause to ‘I Got The Juice’, she connects with her fans immensely as they joined her for a mini dance off on stage, endorsing more shrieks of joy and applause from the audience marking the end of her latest offerings.

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We delved back into the past with ArchAndroid’s ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Cold War’, and an encore of ‘Come Alive’ which left the audience eager for more as she cast her spell getting the audience to sit on the floor before stage diving into the crowd.

Leaving the crowd going wild and wanting more it is clear to say that I think this may be the last time we have the pleasure of seeing her in such an intimate venue. There is a revolution coming soon and soon this icon’s name and ‘Dirty Computer’ will be on everyone’s lips.

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See the complete photoset from tonight’s gig here.

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