Iconic all female R&B group En Vogue crash landed at Bristol’s O2 Academy this April. Formed in the US in 1989, they’ve been going strong for two decades now and are considered to be one of the best female groups of all time, inspiring the likes of Destiny’s Child and TLC, and selling twenty million records worldwide.
Buffeted by lineup changes and lawsuits over ownership of the group’s name, the trio have timed their return perfectly with the current 90s revival. The trio are made up of original members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron, with Rhona Bennett who joined in 2003.
They’re back on tour promoting their seventh studio album Electric Cafe, their first release in fourteen years. They were supported by Pookie DJs who played 90s R&B classics that got the dancefloor filling up, everyone’s excitement about the main event evident. It was definitely ladies’ night with a mainly female audience, friends who were looking forward to singing along to some of their favourite teenage anthems.
their set was simple, just them and a backing track allowing their soulful voices and epic harmonisations to come to the fore.
Interspersing their set with classics and new material, the trio came out all dressed in elegant black to visuals with photos and video footage of them throughout the years. Looking as beautiful as ever, their set was simple, just them and a backing track allowing their soulful voices and epic harmonisations to come to the fore. They stood with their backs to the audience before turning around and treating us to synchronised dancing, starting with My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It) – the crowd roaring with approval.
Terry spoke to the already worked up audience audience, ‘We’re so excited to be here, y’all ready to have a good time?’ before the Funky Divas burst into the well-loved classic, Whatta Man. The giddy crowd were encouraged to wave their hands from side to side, re-living their teenage years with glee. Next came I’m Good from the new album, a catchy song about self-love and self-faith, including empowering lyrics such as ‘I’m good, loving every inch of my perfect imperfections’.
No En Vogue gig could be complete without a rendition of their biggest hit Don’t Let Go, every member of the audience singing along at the tops of their lungs
Of course, no En Vogue gig could be complete without a rendition of their biggest hit Don’t Let Go, every member of the audience singing along at the tops of their lungs. We also heard ‘Blue Skies’ from the new album, a hopeful song about surviving a rough patch in life. Their divine voices melding into a beautiful cascade of sound that melts away like butter.
The beautiful thing about En Vogue is that any of the members are able to take up lead vocals. Hold On – En Vogue’s version of The Jackson 5’s Who’s Loving You – showed us just how powerful their voices are, the sublime harmonising taking us to another dimension of sonic euphoria.
Hold On (…) showed us just how powerful their voices are, the sublime harmonising taking us to another dimension of sonic euphoria.
Ending the encore with Free Your Mind from the 1992 Funky Divas album, the audience were left wanting more. They played a magical set that left us in awe of their legendary vocal abilities and their endurance throughout the ages. To many more years of En Vogue!
Words by Charise Clarke
More at O2 Academy Bristol: academymusicgroup.com/o2academybristol