Arrested Development took to the Barbican stage in an explosion of colour, sound and energy, much like their entrance on the scene back in the early 90s with ‘3 years, 5 months and 2 days in the life of…’ Their positive, afro- centric variant of hip hop has always set the Grammy Award winners apart. Alongside groups such as Digable Planets, they flipped the hip hop script in a scene then dominated by everything gangsta.
AD’s influences stretch from streets of Atlanta Georgia to Africa, making MOBO nominated Ghanaian MC M3NSA, an ideal choice to support and open the evening’s proceedings. The influence and pride of his West African roots were unmistakable, from the African inspired rhythms of the live band to the costumes of the vocalist.
M3NSA’s charismatic and heart warming performance of tracks from his critically acclaimed album ‘No.1 Mango Street’ proved that he certainly has “vim”, and in time, the makings of someone set to also collect an accolade or two along the way.
The London show was the first of Arrested Development’s back to back UK tour, and the audience were left in no doubt that they had arrived. Their live performances have been described as celebrations, and this was no exception. They had the Barbican’s audience in the palm of their hands, and on their feet from start to finish.
The high energy, rock like edge of some of the tracks from their latest album Strong, were intertwined with more melodic offerings and well known anthems from their extensive discography. As a group, they have always complimented each others talents, each adding a distinct edge. Newest edition and vocal powerhouse Tasha wowed the crowd with her soulful tones, whilst 1 Love provided that hard hip hop flavour and Eshe the dancer of the group, kept the party moving. At the helm pulling everything together was founding member Speech, with Rasa Don, JJ Boogie and Za providing the musical accompaniment.
Strong is hailed as being Arrested Development’s strongest offering yet, hence the title, but it was classic and unmistakeable AD anthems such as ‘Tennessee’, ‘Mr. Wendel’ and ‘People Everyday’ that absolutely brought the house down and made for the perfect end to an unforgettable show. It may be a cabinet full of awards, worldwide recognition and some years since Arrested Development’s debut, but as they chilled and connected with fans after the show – they proved they are still every day people.
Venue: Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS
Date: Wednesday 13th October 7.30pm
By: Thuto Mali | M3nsa photos © Michelle Bobb