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Review: Brandy at Auckland’s Civic Theatre

R&B singer, actress and model Brandy Norwood (better known as Brandy), kick-started her Slayana Tour at Auckland’s Civic Theatre last night – her very first appearance Down Under.

The tour comes after her latest release Beggin and Pleadin, which will be part of an upcoming project. The 37-year-old has made a huge effort to revitalise her music career, and after seeing her in the flesh last night I can substantiate those efforts.

Before the show even began, the crowd was “lit” – meaning there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the atmosphere as people danced and sang along to the amazing old school classics the talented DJ Reminise was jamming. He was the opening act. He set the tone for what was to come and what Brandy is acclaimed for – her 90s RnB style.

Although the vibes in the theatre were elevated, they started to simmer down as Brandy was scheduled to be on stage at 9pm. As I waited for Brandy to appear, I began to feel a slight sense of disappointment and started questioning Miss Norwood’s diva-ness.

The lights of the Civic (which is my favourite venue in Auckland, by the way) finally dimmed at around 9.50pm and we long-time fans united in an uproar of celebration, which I think was due more to a sense of relief at first. The music began, and relief turned into jubilation. Would she be worth the wait?

The songstress opened with Afrodisiac from the 2004 same-titled album. This was not the song I expected and didn’t think it was a good choice. Although that didn’t matter as I was still in awe of the fact that I was in the vicinity of RnB royalty. Brandy and her two attractive male back up dancers/singers stood in formation, adorned in black clothing, top hats and canes.

I suspect she lip-synched during the first few songs as her vocals were hard to hear. I don’t know if it was because the sound wasn’t level, or the backing track was too loud or something else, but thankfully that changed and we got to hear the sound of her soft, raspy tones and intricate riffs which she is the reigning queen of. Her vocal ability is flawless and the choreography from the first step was impressive.

A memorable moment in the show was when she paid homage to the legendary Whitney Houston. The setting turned intimate as she spoke about the influence the late singer had on her and noted that Houston had passed on her birthday. This was followed up with beautiful renditions of a few Houston classics.

Not only was the music amazing, her entire presence and attitude while performing was what sealed the deal for me. You could tell she wanted to be there in that moment and was dedicated to performing at her very best for us Kiwis. She laughed at herself, made silly faces and really connected with the audience.

Brandy brought her heart and soul to the stage that night, and I am so grateful I was there to witness it.

Shoko Kurata
Shoko is an Osaka-born Kiwi aspiring to become New Zealand's very own Oprah. Your average Jane, she loves anything to do with music, sports, reading and writing. She loves a good old debate on controversial topics because she always comes out on top. A student at Whitireia, she hopes to graduate with her diploma in Radio Journalism.
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