sat 21/09/2019

Janelle Monáe, The Roundhouse | reviews, news & interviews

Janelle Monáe, The Roundhouse

Janelle Monáe, The Roundhouse

Can the princess of alternative pop prove more than a stage-school confection?

Janelle Monáe: The would-be android princess

I have thus far been a bit wary of the Janelle Monáe hype. It's only natural: when an attractive young performer is taken under the wing of megastars like Outkast and P Diddy, and drenched with media acclaim that pronounces them an artist on the level of Prince, all on the basis of a few download tracks and one album, one bristles. And when that album is heavily conceptualised and crisply produced but more full of overt retro references than it is instant tunes, the suspicion only grows. Live reviews, meanwhile, suggested that there might be something more stage school than old school about her soul stylings. I really didn't have many expectations for last night's show.

One way of seeing what an artist is really about is by looking at their audience, and Monáe's confounded easy assessment

Share this article

Comments

I was there last night and recognise the characterisation, "performing at us". I'm not a sound techie, but if having a poor mix means that the vocals are completely drowned by guitar and bass, then that's spot on. We were very disappointed. Monae is a really exciting artist and has produced some excellent and very varied music... Someone ought to tell them/her that quality and a performance is not measured in watts.

I don't know if the sound mix increased over the course of the night, or whether the improvement was because I moved from my position to one side of the crowd into the middle, but I thought the second half was much better.

I felt the gig was ruined by the sound. She's a female solo artist and you couldn't hear her sign for the first 30 mins unless she was being accompanied by a single instrument. I think she has potential but needs to interact a bit more with the crowd

When I saw her at Trans Musicales just before Xmas - reviewed on theartsdesk - it was the same with the sound, it didn't/couldn't gell. Also, the same make-show thing prevented her reaching the crowd.

interesting comments. i wondered on the sound too. i had ear protectors in so could hear the vocals a bit better, but if it was anyhting like the support, it was hard to make out. I was at the front in the very centre so i don't know how it varied. I'm seeing Robyn there tonight and i hope they have the mix a bit better or it'll be sad. Who are these sound guys who do the check and decide that that is good? in regards to the gig, that was my 3rd time seeing Janelle since Sept (sound was better at others i thought) - and I am still loving it. I think she's very unique and slightly mad and i like that. But I do agree that a bit more interaction with the crowd would help (although the band intro at the end was a nice touch) - she did climb over the barrier at the last gig (on top of us) which was nice too - but not this time. I'll be interested to see how she does her show when she comes back as its been this format for last 3 visits.

Monae was magnificent. The show was let down by an audience more concerned with critical appraisal than reciprocating any of the raw and heartfelt performace being thrown 'at' them. pearls before swine.

The Roundhouse is an awckward room for straightforward's performance such as a live show with band facing audience. Plus, it's round, an acoustic challenge. I.e, La Clique was fab, perfect fit. Janelle was not as good as at The Shepherd's Bush Empire, mainly due to the bad sound, I think. The sound guy was not Roundhouse owned - he worn make-up, the kind a 5 years old would wear for a neighbour's birthday party. AND, he danced on his own tracks before the show started. That tells you a bit about the lack of experience. Sound engineering is a complex responsibility which I think he failed to fulfil. Anyway, Janelle still owns the stage and doesn't mess about when it comes to make you feel funky. She rocks.

Add comment

Subscribe to theartsdesk.com

Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take an annual subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?

newsletter

Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters

Advertising feature

★★★★★

A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

★★★★★

This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman

 

Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.