The Black Eyed Peas (BEP). What can be said? It was energetic (on their part, but not necessarily on the audience’s part). The first half (which lasted around an hour) saw them trotting out the radio hits, a mixture of songs from Elephunk and Monkey Business with some covers throw in. Maybe it was our seats, but it often seemed as if much of the intricacies of the polished, highly produced BEP sound were lost somewhere in the rafters — everything seemed a bit muddled.
This meant that we had to concentrate more on the performance itself — the costumes, the dancing, etc. It was clear from the beginning that this show wasn’t going to be about the theatrics. Not a lot of smoke or fancy lighting tricks. They did change their outfits a few times, but on the whole it was no frills, and maybe a little too much so. That said, the performances in the first half were not astounding, but were still decent. The song from the first half that made the deepest impression on us was probably “Shut Up,” because Fergie seemed to get fairly emotional singing it — or was that just good acting (or our bad eyesight?).
As in previous shows, there were some covers — “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” (performed by Fergie) and “No Woman No Cry” (performed by will.i.am). We have to say that we were so intrigued by these covers that we were disappointed when the songs were cut off after just a few verses. “Sweet Child O’ Mine” seemed a bit lost and was ended quite abruptly, but Fergie’s brief Axl Rose impression was still spot on. There was also the Rob Bass and DJ Easy Rock hit “It Takes Two” as well as the House of Pain song “Jump”. We know they are meant as just filler, but still, we would have liked to hear the twist that each artist adds to the cover.
Other than that, we did get to see a little of everything that makes BEP what they are: the voluptuous Fergie shakin’ her caboose and doing cartwheels with a mike in hand, apl.de.ap singing and rapping in Tagalog, Taboo’s liquid dance moves. We also got to hear one song from Fergie’s upcoming solo album The Duchess (to be released this September, co-produced by will.i.am). We presume the song we heard was “London Bridge,” the only song that’s been released from that album. It seemed a fairly uninspired rap-rock effort.
We especially liked the jam session/interlude that followed the first set. We got to see the band bust their musical chops. There were two guys that banged out a beat on some furniture (a chair and a table) — props to the table guy, anyone who’s tried that at home knows hard it is to do that without proper biceps. We also got to see will.i.am hold a mic and rap with one hand while using the other to play the drums. The drummer (Keith Harris) and trumpet player (Printz Board) both put on good shows. This part of the show seemed less scripted, a bit more freewheeling, a bit more relaxed. It’s nice to see the performers smiling because they are having fun, and not because it makes for good photos.
The end of the show is where you put all the crowd rousing hits, so predictably, the Peas saved “Where is the Love” and “Let’s Get Retarded” (and not the more politically correct “Let’s Get it Started”) for the end, and judging from thousands of people around us, these are the songs that they came to hear. Where we were sitting, people were up and dancing, but it seemed fairly sedate compared to what we saw from the people in front. As expected, the glow sticks made a strong showing as well. When will.i.am asked people to hold up their phones, people seemed confused and waved their glow sticks around instead. Whatever happened to using lighters? There were two big marquee signs on either side of the hall telling people not to throw the glow sticks, which of course, everyone ignored. BEP say they’ll be back in China, though with solo albums and other TV/film projects, we consider ourselves lucky to have been able to catch them this time around and hope that this will set a precedent for more acts to come to China.
Photo from wai2000hou’s Flickr page.