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Solange is championing an alt-R&B movement. She emerged from a somewhat large familial shadow with her True EP at the tail end of 2012 and since then has become one of the most notable faces of the recent R&B revival.
Two years on, she has a label, Saint Records, on which she released a compilation of the most innovative young faces in the genre, and is now the art director for Puma. It’s an impressive resume given that it’s largely on the back of the success of an 8-track disc.
Solange’s explosive, funk injected set was the talk of most punters following her appearance at Falls Festival. The Metro Theatre is worlds away from an outdoor amphitheatre but it was packed to the hilt with a crowd ready for a boogie with Ms. Knowles.
An impossibly slick band entered the stage before Solange made her grand entrance to the love lorn Don’t Let Me Down. All it took was a flick of those floor length braids and the crowd was putty in her hands.
On record, Solange’s tracks sound sultry and down-tempo yet live they take on another life. Some Things Never Seem To F**king Work‘s pulsating bass was a tempo raiser while the down beat Bad Girls induced the most movement of the night, even if it was a Solange orchestrated grind-off.
While it was the songs from True that everyone seemed to be waiting for, a few songs cherry-picked from her Motown inspired second album, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams went down well and, surprisingly, melded effortlessly with simmering downbeat tracks of her earlier output.
Aside from the music, Solange’s personality beamed. She was excited, giddy even, and visibly elated by the mass applause following nearly every number. She candidly revealed mid-set that she’d developed sweat patches before pointing them out in her nether regions. But can you really blame her when she’d been up there busting moves like Aaliyah on speed?
There was one notable absence — Dev Hynes (a.k.a Blood Orange) who wrote and produced True with Solange. Rumour has it the pair have fallen out over writing credits. Tonight, though, she dispelled any fears about her ability to go it alone.
“I’m gonna take y’all to church,” she said before launching into the self-penned Cash In. It was the night’s most soulful moment, and just the second time it had been performed live.
As the evening drew on, the remaining cards up Solange’s sleeve were delivered one after another. Lovers in the Parking Lot was followed by her big number, Losing You, and the one-two proved why the latter is still her flagship moment. The room was stirred into a euphoric state with hand claps and synchronised dance moves.
It was a hard one to top, but she returned moments later with a cover of Dirty Projectors Stillness Is The Move, showcasing her voice’s dizzying heights. Not one to leave before a final dance, she launched into Sandcastle Disco, delivering a chorus with so much throwback charm it was just as enjoyable the sixth time round.
As Solange strutted off stage, there was an aura that there’s even more brewing inside this budding soul queen. True may have facilitated her rise but you get the feeling there’s more to hear and see. Though some may have come simply for Losing You, they stayed for the velvet voice, slinky dance moves and unadulterated joy.
(Photo by Ashley Mar)