Ne-Yo at the O2, Dublin on Monday, 11th of March 2013
It’s a cold March day in Dublin when Ne-Yo takes the O2 stage. Snow has sprinkled the streets and this may have an effect on the attendance. Already in a configuration for a smaller attendance, the seats still only seem to be half full. It’s an aspect that the man himself acknowledges early into the show. It doesn’t bother him, he says and is happy to ‘rock out’ with anyone willing to come to his show. Perhaps his interpretation of ‘rocking out’ is different but 2008 hit Mad, the ballad which follows this proclamation, is not what I would have had in mind.
That’s not to say that there aren’t fun elements to the evening. His emergence onto the stage at about twenty to nine is an explosion of lights and pyrotechnics and opener Let Go really whips the crowd into an early frenzy. Ne-Yo dances and struts around the stage to the fervent excitement of the mostly female adolescent audience. Supported by a group of dancers, an impressive light show and actual musicians playing actual instruments, the show is a feast for the eyes anyway.
And Ne-Yo himself is a charming figure on stage. He is occasionally self-deprecating; noting “I felt naked there for a second,” when he loses his trademark hat at one stage and laughs as a few bras are thrown up on stage. He is an accomplished performer, in total command of his stage. The chants of his name from the crowd following So Sick is evidence of his grip on the audience.
His message is a good one for his demographic too. He talks and sings about having respect for women and women having respect for themselves in My Other Gun and Miss Independent. A certain Mr Brown and Ms Minaj should probably take note. That is, until Lazy Love. The 2012 hit is played with the video for the track saucily on the screen in the background. It’s marked explicit online and goes against some of the messages he was preaching throughout the show. At least support Tulisa had the good sense to try and keep her ‘explicit’ video away from the eyes of the public.
But then we go back to the music. The initial upbeat pomp gives way to slow, homogeneous R&B. One or two in a row is fine. Once the consecutive count reaches eight, however, things get quite boring. With the reds and blacks dominating the field of vision and the screaming going on incessantly, you start to wonder if this is what hell would be like… if hell had a smooth, jazzy, R&B soundtrack.
But it’s to the man’s credit that Ne-Yo brings it back. Main set closer of Closer (those two words should be pronounced differently) and encore of Forever Now, Pitbull’s Give Me Everything and Let Me Love You really add some lustre to the show, with the venue shaking from the mass jumping during the latter two. The pyrotechnics go off before the confetti cannons cover the crowd, mirroring the snowy streets they are about to exit to; a red warm feeling left inside them by the ending to the show.
Ne-Yo Photo Gallery
Photos: Yan Bourke