Motorpoint Arena Cardiff, Mon 2 Mar
A Monday night in Cardiff is not the usual backdrop to a party. But then, it’s not every Monday that the Kisstory Blast Off Tour comes around, and judging by the scenes around the city centre this evening, Cardiff is ready to party. The cream of 90s r’n’b is on hand tonight, with Shaggy [above] and Nelly [bottom] topping it all off, but the question on everybody’s lips is – are Salt-N-Pepa [below] here as billed? The hip-hop superstars’ appearance has been something of a mystery: online rumours, not put to bed by the promoter it must be said, persist that the duo might not make it to Wales.
There are people still making their way through the doors as the UK Garage All-Stars do their thing, with Lisa Maffia and MC Romeo alongside Oxide & Neutrino doing a commendable job in warming up the crowd. It’s notable how different this is to a regular gig. More akin to a nightclub, the crowd is made up of pockets of friends dancing in circles and not really paying attention to what’s going on onstage. This is also why so many acts are able to perform on one bill – it’s strictly hits-only. Any musos in the room tonight are going to be sorely disappointed if they were looking for an album deep cut.
With Fatman Scoop on hand to DJ between sets, next it’s Breathe singer Blu Cantrell’s turn to take the stage. The Ghetto Superstar herself Mya steps up next before Eve takes a bow, the highlight of her set being a collaboration with Gwen Stefani – on the big screen, that is – Let Me Blow Your Mind. A countdown clock appears on the big screen and there’s an air of anticipation with Salt-N-Pepa due onstage. Quickly dispelling any rumours, the girls are indeed here and blast straight into Push It. They back that up with Let’s Talk About Sex and Shoop, and it’s the first time that people in attendance are taking notice of what’s actually happening onstage.
There’s more grinding going on in reggae star Shaggy’s set than all the coffee shops in Cardiff put together, as he makes his way through all the crowdpleasers: Oh Carolina, Angel and of course It Wasn’t Me. Headliner Nelly was unavoidable in the early to mid-2000s with hit after hit. Recent years perhaps haven’t been as kind, but Cardiff clearly hasn’t forgotten him, as the best reaction of the night is kept for the Missouri-born rapper with a penchant for misspelt titles.
Dilemma, Ride Wit Me and Hot In Herre are all lapped up by a well-lubricated crowd, but it essentially feels like a massive karaoke party: apart from the genuine spectacle of seeing Salt-N-Pepa live, you get the impression the crowd would have been equally happy with a DJ cueing up all these hits. The artist being onstage made little difference. All that said, people leave happy, so I’m obviously in the minority herre.
words CHRIS ANDREWS photos EMMA LEWIS