Review: Jack Foley
THE Portuguese party atmosphere witnessed during the current
Euro 2004 football tournament was briefly transferred to Hammersmith
on Monday night, when Nelly Furtado transformed large sections
of the Apollo into a carnival.
Furtado played with gusto, jumping around the stage throughout
her lively set, and only occasionally lapsing into lazy, crowd-pleasing
antics, which threatened to take the focus off her excellent songwriting
I have to confess, I have only become a fan of the singer since
the release of her second album, Folklore,
and it was no coincidence that the best songs on the evening emerged
from that long-player.
Old favourites, such as I’m Like a Bird and Turn
Off The Lights, got the crowd going, but it was easy to hear
the progression the artist has made, since her early days.
Folklore is a much more mature album, as well as being closer,
in spirit, to the type of work that Furtado is happiest producing.
Having cut her teeth and established a following with Whoa
Nelly!, she took what can only be deemed as an artistic risk,
and has deservedly cashed in.
Hence, it was fitting that two tracks from Folklore served as
the show finales - both pre and post encore - and that they were
greeted with such adulation.
Furtado is a gracious performer - a black-haired beauty with
an amazing voice, whose good looks had several sweaty males eating
from the palm of her hand.
Yet, she remains remarkably modest, thanking the crowd, at several
points, for their continued support, and making sure the fans
were very much a part of proceedings.
Three revellers were pulled up onto the stage at different stages
- although one has to question the validity of their presence,
given the confidence that they exuded on-stage. They could easily
have been plants, designed to add to the overall show of the occasion.
Furtado only really came unstuck
during the aforementioned crowd-teasing antics, during which she
diverted off into prolonged bouts of ‘yeah, yeah, yeahs’,
and clapping, which she expected her listeners to respond with
in kind. They did, of course, but it was barely a showcase of
her talent, and lasted far too long.
The banjo, which is also a feature of Folklore, also
became drowned a little too often by the other instruments being
played around her - never more so than during the rousing final
track, Powerless, which virtually relegated the instrument
to an also-ran.
It was a massive shame, given the presence it adds to several
tracks on the long-player.
That said, there was also plenty to savour, and her fans clearly
weren’t phased by some of the set’s failures, or Furtado’s
Several points of the show brought the whole of the Apollo crowd
to their feet in cheers of appreciation, from the stonking, slow-building
Try (which began with the spotlight on Nelly and her
acoustic guitar), through to the feel-good party vibe of current
single, Forca, which, coincidentally, is the official
song of Euro 2004 (the artist is to perform it before the final).
Tracks such as Fresh Off The Boat also provided an excellent
showcase for her resident DJ’s scratching skills, while
the likes of One Trick Pony, Explode and The Grass
Is Green served to ensure that the night maintained an upbeat
vibe, with Furtado and her backing singer regularly indulging
in some seductive hip-swaying, to the delight of all who were
Furtado even dropped in some covers, including a short work-out
for Missy Elliott’s distinctive Get Ur Freak On,
and, at a time when it has become fashionable to cover Oasis (Ryan
Adams, anyone?), the Gallaghers’ classic Slide Away
(from the Definitely Maybe album).
It was played acoustically, and sounded pretty good, before rolling
into the altogether more lively Saturdays, from Folklore.
No doubt, Furtado will now be hoping to carry the carnival fever
all the way into a Portuguese success story at those football
championships, when her next captive audience might just be a
certain Figo, Ronaldo and co.