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Issue 1084

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Live

Craig David: Shepherd’s Bush Empire 17/06/2008

CRAIG DAVID: SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE 17/06/2008
CRAIG DAVID: SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE 17/06/2008

A first rate if not entirely perfect live performance from the British R’n’B singer...

The diehard fans in the audience were vociferous from the off and were clearly excited as Craig made a distinctly Usher style entry complete with white leather jacket and matching big shades.

Opening with 'Hot Stuff', the first several of tracks taken from fourth and current studio album 'Trust Me', Craig cut a swathe across the Empire stage moving from one side to the other as if on high powered batteries, engaging those at the front although this appeared to be more for the benefit of the assembled photographers.

During the first 3 songs (that included 'Whats Your Flava'), David’s grossly exaggerated hand gestures proved mildly irritating and his voice did waiver occasionally. However, as the show moved along, he started to get into his stride and produced sublime harmonies on new tracks such tracks as 'She’s On Fire' and the romantically rap charged 'This is the Girl', as well as established oldies like the '7 days' and an impressive rendition of 'Walking Away'.

The backing band proved a competent enough support and was made of guitar and bass, keyboards, drums, two piece brass and female backing singer. Special mention, though, must be made of the keyboard player in David’s band who sometimes doubled as acoustic guitarist on several tracks. His enthusiasm was infectious and this was particularly evident on new single 'Officially Yours'. The lively and enjoyable '6 of 1' rounded off the main part of the show but the real showstopper was when Craig went back to his Garage roots with a beautiful rendition of his former UK No.1 single 'Fill me in' that amply demonstrated the full range of his vocal versatility. He ended this song with a dizzying tongue twisting rap lasting 5 minutes that showed he is equally at home in this genre and this earned him a standing ovation.

He did not seem entirely comfortable at the start of the show with American style grandstanding but as the big shades and then the jacket came off we witnessed the real Craig David emerge. Little by little he started to connect naturally with a generous Shepherd’s Bush audience that consisted not of only U.K fans but also many Europeans. At one point he acknowledged this warm reception. “London, you do it every time, every time” he stated and was visibly overcome with emotion.

Whilst he may not have fully cracked the US market, he undoubtedly has a loyal British and European following. Ten years in the business, Craig stated all he wanted to do was to make music and entertain people. And by heck, entertained we certainly were by this undisputed King of British R ‘n’ B.
Words DARREN LEWIS

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