SuperBreak’s Online Conversion Manager, David is not afraid to say he’s a huge fan of the legend that is Pharrell. Armed with tickets to see the American singer-songwriter, rapper and record producer live at The O2 Arena in London, he couldn’t wait to get back to the office and tell us all about it…
First off, I only got the tickets to see Pharrell live at The O2 because someone else dropped out 4 days before, so it was quite last minute which made it that little bit more awesome. I also hope said person doesn’t read this blog post, as he’ll be even more crushed about not going. So, after making my arrangements for the trip, and now clutching my assortment of East Coast and O2 tickets, I went to pick up my lucky wife, Laura (naturally she was lucky beforehand, but an invitation to see Pharrell really reinforced this). The journey down was pleasant – or at least it was for me as I’m not sure the rest of coach G appreciated my egg butties – and our hotel the Holiday Inn Express Royal London Docks was easy to find. Time was short, so after dumping our bags we had just enough time to get ready and then make the one tube stop hop over The O2 Arena.
I’d never been to the arena before, so I did a bit of the goggle-eyed tourist thing as it is a really impressive building, and as it turned out we had quite a bit of time to potter around the inside before heading up the boxes. The staff are also really helpful, which is handy if you’re devoid of any sense of direction like myself. Once sat in our excellently positioned seats, a very much impressed wife and myself got ready for Pharrell’s live performance.
My review of which is as follows: Cris Cab, alright cover of ‘Pumped up kicks’, but otherwise forget the name, this will probably be the last time you’ll ever hear it. Foxes, she has a really good voice and I enjoyed her set, although she either needs a stylist, or should sack her current one (according to Laura). Our future as the first husband and wife Guardian culture journalist team is due to take off any day now.
Now onto the main event itself, however as a bit of context I thought I’d share my favourite Pharrell facts:
-In August 2003, 43% of the US billboard chart was produced by Pharrell. One of my favourite Jay-Z lyrics is ‘I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man’, which (a) is actually more applicable to Pharrell and (b) was probably written by Pharrell anyway.
-Pharrell/Neptunes actually wrote Justin Timberlake’s ‘Justified’ album, but offered it up to Michael Jackson who rejected it on the grounds that it was too similar to his other work. Kudos to Jacquie at SuperBreak for furnishing me with that story.
-His son is called Rocket Man Williams, which just goes to show that you can’t be good at everything.
As for the set itself it had the lot, a dazzling light show and video board, a full dance troupe, costume changes; essentially a great deal of effort had gone into making this a great experience rather than just a guy singing a few of his songs, banging out an encore then going home. Prior to coming, my father-in-law sent us a snippet of the Guardian review of the first show (only slightly tongue-in-cheek) which was really positive and I was beginning to see why.
Pharrell started with the good, upbeat album tracks for the first 20-odd minutes, then went into a medley of the tracks that he’s either written, produced or appeared on. It was a who’s who of chart topping hip-hop and RnB of the last 20 years, starting with Nelly’s ‘Hot in Here’ to really get the crowd going, before moving into the likes of ‘Pass the Courvoisier’, ‘Drop it like it’s Hot’ and even a bit of Britney’s ‘Slave 4 U’. You see, talented man, at this point wearing an audacious orange trainers and now trademark Mountie hat combination. Anyone else would look like a bag lady.
Next he moved onto the slower album tracks (cue costume change into a sparkly jumper visible from space), followed by some N.E.R.D. classics which was a really nice surprise for a massive fan boy like me, who is often found hurtling down the A64 of a morning signing ‘You can get this lapdance here for free…’. True story. He then moved onto recent collaborations such as ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Blurred Lines’, the latter of them managing to get this final few members of the crowd still sat down to arise and start shaking what their momma gave them. Then finally came ‘Happy’, a few final photos with some of the people we’d met that night and then back to the hotel for a kebab (I’m not proud of this) and some much needed sleep.
After a comfortable night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, shared with what appeared to be one of Man Utd’s youth teams who were fittingly sat lower down the table, we made our way back to King’s Cross and back home. This was a truly unforgettable trip and without a doubt the best performance I’ve ever seen in 15yrs+, so I can safely say that Mr Williams has earned all the plaudits that he’s receiving.
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