By Poppy Tohill
Date / Venue: Friday August 22nd, The Powerstation, Auckland
Haz Beats, Lucky Lance and Tony T, proved why they call themselves Team Dynamite last night. Despite the somewhat smallish audience of die hard fans who had arrived early, the boys were on absolute fire, with their pure energy and enjoyment just radiating from one another into the audience. The speed at which Tony T & Lucky Lance can rap just gets me every time, it's absolutely mind blowing. Haz Beats as always delivered his roaring popular beats with their latest single ‘Coconut Lime' proving a definite crowd favourite, along with‘YGB,' (Young, Gifted & Broke) where they were joined by another YGB member, who just overflowed with obvious enthusiasm. There really was no better way to begin what was to be a very solid and fantastic night of entertainment.
Having seen Ladi6 performance almost at least once a year since the Big Day Out in 2009, her shows are never the same, as more twists, turns, solos, instrumentals and impressive additions seem to be added to each song, every time. Whenever on stage it becomes fairly obvious the leading Ladi was born for the stage and I find myself wondering why the group hasn't blown up overseas as much as they deserve yet. But aside from that, having just returned from her first tour around the States, it seems Ladi has developed into an even greater confident and commanding performer, making it extremely easy for me to honestly say that out of the 105 concerts I have been to in my life, this show definitely sits nicely amongst the best top ten!
As time flew by, the Powerstation filled up nicely, as an audience of fairly varied age differences, stood, anticipating Ladi6's arrival onto the stage. Eventually it was time, and the three male band members Julien Dyne, Brandon Haru and Parks each took to their instrument stations on stage as the lights dimmed and the "Intro' began. Ladi soon followed taking centre stage, belting out ‘Ikarus,' the first single from her recent album ‘Automatic,' rocking a beautiful full length navy blue dress, and white fur coat, looking effortlessly stunning as always.
"How are you Auckland City!?" she beckoned, as the strong opening track came to a conclusion. "I just want you to get loose and have a party!" she added before launching full force into an energetic performance of ‘Burnin.' After excited screams and whistles followed the removal of her fur coat, revealing a stunning gold necklace, Ladi continued to heighten the energy level on stage, pulling out some dance moves which you could clearly tell she was having some fun doing.
Quickening the tempo of Nancy Sinatra's famous ‘Bang Bang,' Ladi began by singing a more upbeat verse from this classic 60's song, before cleverly transitioning into the energetic claps and introduction of her own hit, with the same name, from her second album, ‘The Liberation Of.'
‘Slow Ride,' ‘People Talking' and ‘Ready To Fly' from ‘Automatic' induced the crowd into the partying and dancing mood, with the entire audience cheering and dancing by the time the impressive drum outro drew‘People Talking' to an end.
The slower paced crowd favourites ‘Shine On' and ‘Hold Tight' honed in on the more chilled and relaxed vibe of the audience, slowly building up the energy once more throughout ‘Hold Tight' as Ladi showed off her own dancing skills during the instrumental. Evidently having the time of her life, just by looking at her you couldn't help but be happy and want to dance.
Having joined in singing at the end of ‘Shine On,' DJ Parks went on to kick off the album title track ‘Automatic'next, with his vocoder. By this stage, there was no stopping the crowd as the dancing, singing and clapping along grew louder and more frequent with each song. While pulling out a number of the hits in one go, the band impressively continued, blending the instrumental from ‘Automatic' into one of Ladi's biggest popular hits, ‘Like Water,' where the whole audience joined in enthusiastically singing and dancing along.
Announcing she'd need lots of help with the next song, Ladi went on to conduct a practice test, encouraging the audience to repeat what she sang after her. In response, the entire venue echoed as every audience member partook in the exercise, singing at the top of their lungs. After a few practices, Ladi admited it was definitely a battle between Auckland and Christchurch in terms of volume, encouraging everyone to try one final time to ensure we would be the winners. Continuing to discuss the volume levels with the band members, all agreed it was sounding pretty good, and they rocketed full force into the most phenomenal performance of ‘Jasmine D.L' possible, which definitely remained a highlight of the entire night for many.
I must say, the crowd were definitely on point with the responsive singing also, screaming their "ooh, waah ohs" back to Ladi as she enthusiastically pointed the microphone towards the audience. The stamina from Ladi, the band and the entire audience was incredible, as the back and fourth singing between one another was evidently a great hit, with the crowd seeming to be having just as much fun as those on the stage.
Just when you thought it couldn't possibly get any better, the band began to slow and the raw power and strength of Ladi's soulful tones became the more apparent feature, being lightly backed by the drums and keys, with the atmosphere throughout the entire room also changing at the drop of a hat from the high energy party mode, to a more dramatic and attentive setting. Then before you could blink twice, the DJ beats and whirling of the instruments roared back into gear, to conclude the song with gusto the way it had begun, with the echoing voices of both the audience & Ladi singing to one another.
After ‘Jazmine, D.L' Ladi teased, "Shall we finish now, or do you want some more?" The answer was obvious as the band went on to perform (my personal favourite) ‘Call You Out,' from their first album ‘Time Is Not Much.' Showing no sign of being the less adored track, amongst the vibrant setlist of songs predominantly from ‘Automatic.' Parks let rip rapping from behind his array of DJ equipment, as Ladi enjoyed dancing around the stage, chuckling every few seconds at her own dance moves.
As Ladi went on to show the audience her rapping skills kicking off '98 Till Now,' openers Team Dynamite returned to the stage to help her out, resulting in an epic performance between the two groups. The connection, fun, passion, energy and talent apparent on stage between Tony, Lance & Ladi was absolutely magical, as each artist put 110 percent effort into the performance. Concluding the impressive collaboration Team Dynamite departed the stage, as Ladi had an absolute blast, bashing away at drummer Dyne's cymbals, gradually getting slower and slower before arriving at the final single bash.
After witnessing that you wonder what else could the band possibly do to make the following songs even better, well, part way through ‘Goodday' Parks announced "We're going to break it down for you now if that's okay." Receiving a wild and enthusiastic response from the audience, each member of the band went on to perform a solo on their given instruments and technical gear, each solo proving more brilliant and jaw-dropping than the last.
With each song, the cheers, shouts, and endearing comments from the audience grew louder and more frequent, undeniably to the extreme level that was also so well deserved. Although, Ladi, somewhat over-run with gratefulness and emotion, stood there almost appearing surprised at the reception she was receiving. Taking the time to thank the audience for coming out to the gig and showing such loving support, I'm sure I spotted a tear roll down her face, as she expressed how amazing it was to be playing here in Auckland again.
In conclusion to her humbled admiration, she treated the audience to an exquisite performance of ‘Go Get It,'which involved a lot of dancing on her part, before departing the stage, much to everyone's dissatisfaction, already requesting an encore before the entire band had a chance to leave the stage.
With the audience stomping, whistling, clapping, screaming, shouting, and banging against anything that would make some noise, the audience beckoned "Encore" and "Ladi6" in complete unison for the next five minutes, before a special guest ran onto the stage to hype everyone up.
"We Love" the guest beckoned as the crowd were informed to shout back "Hip Hop!" continuing on to shout "6" in response to the initial "Ladi." Warming up the crowd once more, the call and response game continued for a few more minutes before the final, "Make some noise for Ladi6!" was shouted, as the band took to the stage one last time.
Launching the encore into action, they began by performing the popular crowd favourite ‘Diamonds' which saw many hands go up in the air, all creating a diamond shape with their fingers.
Following the popular hit, was ‘So Far' & ‘Walk Right Up,' two more oldies from ‘Time Is Not Much,' which she eventually unfortunately drew to an end with.
Leaving singing the lyrics "See You Tomorrow," I really wish I could ‘see them again tomorrow' and highly encourage anyone who may ever get the chance to, to go see Ladi6, because she's not in my top 10 of 100 artists for nothing. She is a hip hop queen! -Go find out for yourself.