Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kelly Rowland Through Rose Colored Glasses

The world works in mysterious ways sometimes. This is the only way I can I describe my luck regarding last week's promotional adventures with Universal Motown's resident dancefloor diva, Kelly Rowland.

I've seen Kelly once before, back in her Destiny's Child "Say My Name" days with her cohorts Michelle Williams and a lil' forgotten gem named Beyonce, on the TRL Tour back in 2001 alongside Eve, Nelly, Jessica Simpson, Dream and 3LW (ahh, the glory pop days of the early 2000s!). The Kelly of then and the Kelly of now are two different women entirely, and I'm proud to say I've grown up with Ms. Rowland -- just as much of a fan of her now as I was then.

Last Wednesday, I was invited by the good people at iHeartRadio to Kelly's promotional performance for the radio channel at the PC Richard and Son Theatre in Tribeca. Her 40-minute set was high-energy from second one, and because I'm the lucky bunny that I am, I got to enjoy it in the luxury of VIP. The PC Richard & Son Theatre is a relatively new conversion to the New York performance stage setup and holds around 150 people standing. It also has a small little high-rise section in the back, where I got to stand alongside some of Universal Motown's finest. Thanks again to iHeartRadio for the hookup!

Check out some exclusive content from that night over at iHeartRadio!

Kelly opened her set in a full-length, long-sleeved, turtle-neck, leopard catsuit (first Kelis, now Kelly) with a brand new song off her upcoming third solo album, called "I'm Dat Chick". Per new Kelly fansite,, the song was produced by Tricky Stewart and co-written by Ester Dean, and it was the song's world premiere. By the way it was presented, I'm guessing it's in serious contention to be the next pop/Rhythmic single off the project. It's along the swagger lines of much of Christina Aguilera's Bionic record (including the repeat along the lines of "I just love myself" -- leading me to believe it very well might be from the Bionic sessions itself), with a chorus that repeats: "Work your fist/I'm that chick!" It's the embodiment of being female, strong and confident, and comes across much more believably (and less gratingly arrogant) at the hands of Ms. Rowland over Mrs. Bratman, but I suppose that's another story for another time.

Check out this performance of "I'm That Chick" and "Like This" from the Wal-Mart Soundcheck performance (Thursday). This video is not mine -- credit to the original owner.

Her debut solo album was pretty much forgotten during her set, with the exception of "Dilemma", her early 2000's duet with rapper Nelly. Lest you forget, Kelly's role in the song was the chorus and hook, as the vast majority was compriesd of Nelly's rap. So, it was five minutes of Kelly repeating the chorus and a call/response with the audience of "Baby, I love you/And I need you/Baby, I love you/I do/Neeeeeeed you".

"Commander" was another spotlight piece, but of her newer work, the unmistakable highlight was her #1 with David Guetta, "When Love Takes Over". David himself was quoted as saying Kelly was on a Whitney Houston-kind of vibe when recording the epic dancefloor stomper, and that was very true when I saw her live. I felt much of Houston's influence, as well as that of Mary J Blige. The song segued into a mini Coldplay interlude with "Clocks" during the bridge, a song that many have commented sonically sounds very similar to "Over".

The majority of her set was closed with "Dilemma" before the DJ blasted some tunes and Kelly returned to us in a fresh outfit (a rose colored bottom with a shiny gold lame bra/midriff top), performing a handful of DC3's biggest hits, including "Say My Name", "Survivor" and "Bootylicious." The night ended with her current pop radio single, "Rose Colored Glasses."

"Rose Colored Glasses", live at the iHeartRadio performance (Wednesday). Video is thanks to iHeartRadio.

The night was very enjoyable indeed, although I was a little bit let down by the prevelance of Kelly's miming throughout some of the more uptempo tunes. The performance was videotaped for a feature on iHeartRadio's Unplugged, and while she was definitely singing live during the runs, homegirl often didn't even try to sing live during the current epicness that is "Commander". Instead, she continually held the mic out to the audience instead, letting the backing track do much of the heavy lifting.

The following night, I caught Kelly again, performing the same set at the Gramercy Theatre (swapping the leopard catsuit for a blue-printed one), this time for Wal-Mart and their Soundcheck series. (Mel's Note: No pics from that show, unfortunately. Perhaps you aren't aware, but I'm terribly vertically challenged. It's a sad affliction that seems to affect all of the women in my family. Darn those genes!)

The entire set will become available for you to see at a Wal-Mart near you this October, in support of the album, which is due November. I'm happy to report she was singing live much more during this performance, and the crowd (slightly bigger, since the venue was a bit bigger) was much more hyped and into her performance than the night before. Her years in Destiny's Child definitely weren't for naught -- Ms. Kelly knew how to handle the stage and her vocals (when audible) were 100% on point (especially during "When Love Takes Over" -- so good it bares repeating). Some of her "diva" shtick felt a little thin and forced, and admittedly, she is still developing and figuring out her dancefloor image (parts of "Commander", especially during the Wal-Mart performance, felt a little too fabtastic theatrical), but overall, I walked away very satisified in Kelly's pipes and stage presence.

As much as I love "Commander", my interest was renewed for the album thanks to the inclusion of the new song "I'm Dat Chick", warding off my fears of the album being too safe and middle of the road. November seems too far away, Kelly! Thanks again to iHeartRadio and Wal-Mart for the opportunity to revisit an old favorite of mine!

All photos were taken by yours truly -- feel free to use,  fam, with credit of course!


Dave said...

Mel! I love your blog and especially this Ms Kelly post. Very excited about her forthcoming album!

Aaron said...

She certainly looked amazing - I can not wait for this album, seriously, I might actually go insane for this!!!

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