Misteeq / Jamelia / Wayne Williams - Manchester Apollo - 27.9.03

Pop music's moved on a lot since the Beatles sang "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" or The Temptations sung "My Girl", but as much as you hate the pedo pop leanings of S Club 8 it's nothing in comparison to ex-Another Level star Wayne Williams doing a call and response of "It's All About The Sex" with an audience whose average age is probably about 13. Ok, granted on some estates in Britain there might be 13 year olds who are just having their 2nd kids, but for the average kid here tonight sex is probably just something they're reading about in the latest teen mag and is about as far removed from their own life's as Jonathan King is from a School playground.

Jamelia fares much better as the main warm up for the Misteeq ladies. She's come a long way since her biggest hit to date "Money" and her experiences over the past 3 years have turned her from an artist with great potential to an artist who actually delivers on that potential. "Bout" talks about her sat watching on the sidelines bringing up her kid while pop chancers were tapping into the R&B sounds, while her latest single "Superstar", a cover version of a little known European act, sees Jamelia in full on pop mode reaching out to the audience with chants of "Weyo Weyo Weyo". "Taxi" which she first aired on the Justin Timberlake tour earlier in the year prompts the ladies to wind down and grind ala Beyonce and makes us laugh more than the J Lo imitators at Blazin Squad earlier in the year. With just over 20 minutes to wow the audience Jamelia succeeds on all counts, but we have to ask why no Opera / R&B soundclash with "Money"?

Urban music is the soundtrack of a generation which is why as the DJ warms up with a steady flow of Black Eyed Peas, Redman and MOP there's not an ass on the seats. F**k the days when you went to a concert and you had to sit through a cheese fest of anodyne pop. 2003 was the year that the cheese was finally squeezed. And as the lights dim down and the silhouettes appear we see the 3 ladies at the vanguard of the revolution. Alesha - Britain's sexiest lady and still maintaining her Facho stance (Ed: Don't confuse the readers for they won't know yet that Facho is the female version of Macho). Sabrina - the vocal talent in the group. Su-Elise - no pun intended but the obvious bit of Eye Candy. Together they are Misteeq and from those early days they've had a clear vision of how they wanted to be perceived. The fact that they've waited this long to head out on the road in order  they have a wealth of material to choose from as well as the opportunity to perform with a live band is a statement of intent.

Using a live band with such cutting edge music proved to be a double edged sword. Automatically scoring them credibility points in the eyes of the "keep music live" brigade some of the garage tracks off "Lickin On Both Sides" were transformed into pale imitations of their former glories. "All I Want" and "B With Me" are two such casualties, but it irrelevant when Alesha gives it her all and MC's as if her life depends on the riddim and rhyme. The transformation from underground garage stars to the UK's premier R&B act has been seamless and listening to a melody of their heroes including En Vogue, Salt And Pepper and TLC it's easy to see where they have their sights set. Tracks such as "Scandalous" and "Roll On" have never sounded better and if Misteeq are the UK's answer to Destiny's Child then it's hard to see exactly who's the spare part (or the Michelle shall we say). It's only a mid-set lull of ballads which is at least made slightly less painful by the girls dropping the casual apparel and slipping into glorious red evening dresses.

We came here expecting the best and we got it. Misteeq are a pop act with a difference and while other Urban acts such as Ms Dynamite and Big Brovaz seem happy to shun the live arena, these girls are slowly and surely taking over.

Alex McCann
Photo's by Karen McBride - www.karenmcbride.com

Post your Misteeq reviews / comments on the Message Board