In this job I get to do all sorts. Because I don’t work for any one publication I can find myself interviewing everyone from the Pussycat Dolls to Cliff Richard to Blaze Bayley to more general lifestyle features. I have to say I prefer it that way. Man cannot live by punk rock alone afterall. Where am I going with this? Well, last month I found myself covering Akon and Coolio for Hot Press. It was….interesting.
Akon and Coolio at the Odyssey, Belfast
Picture the scene, if you will. The Odyssey is two thirds full, this writer is sitting in an area which reeks of Clearasil, B.O. and Tayto crisps and Celebrity Big Brother reject Coolio is shouting about “bitches” and “ho’s” for no apparent reason. It’s all well and good telling the crowd “this is how the gangsters do it,” but in Belfast it takes on another meaning entirely.
For the next half an hour Coolio proves to us all without a shadow of a doubt that ‘Gangsters Paradise’ (which tonight sounds about as dangerous as an episode of Heartbeat ) will forever mark him down in history as a one hit wonder. His vocals on ‘I’ll See You When You Get There’ is about as tuneful as karaoke night at Helen Keller’s house and at one point when we see a member of Coolio’s “homies” literally struggle for five minutes trying to take his vest off, we realise that this could possibly be the worst gig in the world.
Still, there’s always Akon to look forward to, but before the diminutive Senegalese-born song-writer comes onstage we get a short set from his transvestite DJ pal Benny D (OK, so he was wearing a kilt…). Quite frankly, Benny’s beats are wasted on the crowd, but when the headline act finally does meet his public it’s to a thunderous reception. It’s clear that Belfast loves Akon and during ‘Locked Up’ one formerly hard as nails bloke is reduced to screaming “I love you” every five minutes. It’s a sight to behold alright, but it’s quite sweet in a way. Unfortunately the same can’t be said when the rapper urged “All my Catholics in the crowd, get your x’s up” as you could hear a pin drop from the back of the venue.
Sadly, while this writer considers himself a fan of Akon (particularly his work with Gwen Stefani and more recently Lady GaGa) tonight’s set is criminally bad. For some reason he decides to perform shortened versions of songs such as ‘I Wanna Love You’ and ‘Right Now (Na Na Na)’ and the production is, shall we say, somewhat lacking. For such a large arena, it’s a shame to see the star performing in total darkness, but that was probably a conscious decision to spare the star’s blushes at a criminally under-populated venue
Even the ace ‘Put The Blame On Me’ sounds flat tonight and if Akon wants to become a true modern day legend he really needs to work on his live show. Still, what do I know? The knackers beside me loved every minute, but considering they also look like they love their own sisters too, we’ll take that verdict with a pinch of salt.
The new issue of Hot Press is out now by the way homies. It has an interview with Morrissey. http://www.hotpress.com/news/5319968.html