erykah badu southbank centre

Review: Erykah Badu at Southbank Centre

Review: Erykah Badu at Southbank Centre

Iconic artist Erykah Badu graces the stage for the first of two ethereal performances at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. by Adam Davidson

To celebrate 25 years since the release of Baduizm, the queen of neo-soul celebrates the influential debut album with a certain dose of theatre and innovation that became her signature.

Baduizm was released in 1997 and Badu’s debut album sold millions of copies and earnt her two Grammys. The singer has since inspired the likes of H.E.R, SZA and Ari Lennox.

The 9-piece band opened up with an upbeat instrumental performance of ‘Tyrone’ before Badu walked onto the stage with swagger and confidence wearing her iconic Holy Mountain hat and unique Myah Hasbury leg warmers. You could instantly feel the energy and love the crowd had for her as she savoured it for a moment before performing ‘Hello.’

Erykah Badu displayed the range of her talents with her drum machine which teased the beat of ‘On & On.’ The event instantly turned into a party as everyone got out of their seats to dance along to the 1997 hit song.

The vocal range on display was incredible from the upbeat funk of ‘Didn’t Cha’ Know’ to the Billie Holliday-esque blues style of ‘Out My Mind, Just in Time.’ The latter lasted 10 minutes but throughout you could hear a pin drop in the Southbank Centre with the crowd in amazement at Badu’s vocals. Not only did this genre-hopping keep the performance fresh and exciting but it also encapsulated Badu as a performer – fearless. During one of the last songs, she danced during a drum-heavy instrumental, perfectly matching the energy of the show. This was answered with a roaring cheer from the crowd.

Badu ditched the signature hat halfway through the performance as she performed on a synthesizer microphone which transformed her voice to a robotic auto-tune, whilst a kaleidoscopic camera displayed several live images of the artist on the big screen. There were fun moments of theatre with a laser field and during ‘Window Seat’, a laser beam came to take her away when she sang the lyrics “So if anybody speak to Scotty Tell him, Beam me up!’”

Regardless of the theatrics, the standout aspect of the show was the incredible vocals and delivery of the artist – the audience hung on her every word.

Baduizm is celebrating 25 years but it still feels so fresh and exciting which is a testament to the musical genius of Erykah Badu.