Beverley Knight / Rhianna - Manchester Academy - 9.12.02

Rhianna is a frizzy haired soul siren from Leeds who looks as good as she sounds. Around her are an excellent group of musicians and a couple of foxy backing singers but the focus is purely Rhianna herself who oozes confidence, style and great stage presence. Before launching her solo career she was in the much underrated band LSK with her half brother Leigh and the fact that much of her debut album "Word Love" is co-written with Leigh shows just what a fantastic music partnership they make. With her musical roots in 70s funk, soul and R&B but with a contemporary feel the unbelievable catchy "Girlfriend" and her two previous singles "Ooh Baby" and "Word Love" are amazing as is her performance of the album track "Romeo and Juliet". Sadly there are also moments when some of her other songs fail to hit the mark and lack edge, melody and seem extremely ordinary. It's an enjoyable set, but with better tunes and more memorable songs it could have been exceptional.

November 1998 was the first time I saw Beverley Knight live when she supported Morcheeba at Manchester's Ritz. Even then she was absolutely brilliant, blowing the headline act off the stage. I was convinced that I was witnessing a performer who would one day be a star. It took just over 3 years for that to happen, but boy was she worth the wait. Arriving on stage to a thunderous applause, Beverley joined her band which included a DJ and 3 backing singers. Knight is no stranger to playing live and two of her more high profile concerts this year have been in Palaces - one for the Queen at her Jubilee Concert and the other for Posh & Becks at, you guessed it, Beckingham Palace. But whatever the crowd, Beverley always gives 100%  live and tonight of course is no exception.

A natural talent and a person who was born to perform, she has so much energy, vitality and comes across like you know her personally as her personality is so strong. You want the hits, you got them. "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda", "Sista Sista" and new single "Shape of You" with Wyclef (although sadly not here tonight) bring the house down. She even mixes Gwen Gutherie's "Nothing Going On But The Rent" with No Doubt's "Hella Good" seemlessly. Fans of the "Who I Am" album certainly are not disappointed, but for her older fans there are songs from her debut album and her second album "Prodigal Sista". For the encore Beverley Knight belts out the funky epic "Get Up" and invites Rhianna back on stage for this explosive number. As a finale for her set, Knight has excelled herself and is the undisputed Queen of British R&B!!!

Nicholas Paul Godkin

Post your Beverley Knight & Rhianna reviews / comments on the Message Board