Tuesday 21 May 2013

Craig David // Live Review The Ritz, Manchester

Rewind a decade and Southampton born Craig David was in his prime. Even last year MTV viewers voted his album “Born To Do It” the second Greatest Album Ever (beaten only by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”). However, after moving Stateside, Craig went a bit quiet on us. Think Craig David nowadays and he is most likely to be associated with Keith Lemon’s “Bo Selecta!” (whether or not that worked in his favour is debatable). However, he is back, currently gracing the KISS FM airwaves (via his new home in Miami), working on a much anticipated new album and out on a World tour.

We went down to check out his live show as the world tour swung by Manchester’s Ritz.

Craig David on stage at The Ritz 

The audience at The Ritz is an eclectic mix, proving that Craig David’s appeal stretches far and wide. However, the common thread is that everyone is gathered in the packed out venue, excitement building, for the long awaited return of one of the UK’s seminal singer-songwriters. We were all in the dark as to what to expect from the evening, but we knew it was going to be something special.

Craig David and band on stage in Manchester 
Craig David

As Craig David’s backing band take to the stage the atmosphere is already electric and the entrance of the man himself only makes the room erupt. “What’s Your Flava, tell me what’s your flava?”, the distinctive opening of the classic track means that tonight has officially begun. Hit after hit, Craig is unstoppable as he effortlessly guides the audience through classics “Time To Party” and “Walking Away”; a smooth and slick performance, he doesn’t once stand still. 

There aren’t many thirty-somethings who could carry off an entirely white outfit, however Craig has managed it. Usually it would be fair to say that one song is a particular stand out, but not tonight, because each song is just as good as the next. Every one is a crowd favourite. He’s working on a new album, rumoured to be a mix of RnB and pop and if the taster we get tonight in new song “Less Is More” is anything to go by then he is still very much on form.

Craig David makes his return to stage to a packed out Ritz

The emotive “Rise And Fall”, famously featuring Sting, is followed up with ballad “Rendezvous” which gets a tweaking and upbeat remix at the end. And as Craig leaves the stage his band breaks into the Jay-Z and Alicia Keys hit “Empire State Of Mind”, which is given an impressive little makeover. A turntable is wheeled on stage as Craig re-emerges with his DJ hat on, so to speak. Explaining to the crowd how “TS5”, his DJ name, first began life merely DJing to ten friends pre-night out in his living room in his flat (Flat TS5) in Miami. And how ten people turned to twenty, and twenty to fifty until he was soon offered his own DJ slot on KISS FM. Tonight his DJ set is on par with live tracks as he seamlessly blends hip- hop track “I Got 5 On It” into Missy Elliot, TLC and EVE, as well as throwing in some Chris Brown’s “Beautiful People”. And the crowning glory is “Bills Bills Bill” by Destiny’s Child’s mixed to his own track with Artful Dodger; hit single “Rewind”. 

Craig David "Born To Do It"

Vocally Craig David’s entire performance is faultless; add-libbing, playfully joking with the crowd and throwing in the odd rap or two, he is a showman from beginning to end. And just as the classic “7 Days” rounds the evening off Craig is called back for an encore. Tonight every song sounds better than it did all those years ago and is brought back to life. “Insomnia” is even given a dubsetp remix; it shouldn’t have worked, it did. And there really could be no other song to officially close the show than the infamous “Fill Me In”. Amongst a sea of up and coming new artists, Craig David proves that he was and still is born to do it. A resounding ten out of ten performance and it’s safe to say that everyone at The Ritz whole-heartedly agreed. 10/10

Craig David and band wow the Manchester crowd

21st May- Guildhall, Southampton
22nd May- IndigO2, London

Every fan that attends a show will also receive a free song to download after the tour is finished.