If you could combine Nina Simone’s vocal grit, and Tina Turner’s energetic stage presence mixed with that new school genre bending –ish, the end result is a sound that only our soul sister from across the pond, V.V. Brown, can provide. Fortunately for fans here in DC, she performed live at DC 9 on Friday.
The live set accompanied by her 5 piece band boasted mostly new material from her forthcoming project ‘Lollipops and Politics’ slated to be released 1st quarter of 2012. “This is a very special show tonight because it’s only our 3rd time performing this new set live” V.V. told the audience after performing the first number, “Tough like Glue” from the coming project. She did make sure to hit crowd favorite ‘Shark in the Water’, which I had to mention, because real talk, I thought the floor was going to break when she hit that joint! The crowd was a crazy situation. Anyway, Ms. Brown, who performed the whole show barefoot, is incredibly soulful in her style and comfortable in her approach. Although she’s a black woman, who’s got an incredibly powerful contralto voice and lots of soulfulness, her style is far from being actual soul music. Yet the gravity of her lyrics combined with her commanding presence and unique vocals, result in a musical experience that you can feel.
The hipsters were out in great numbers to dance to the English pop-rock singers feel good music. Much of the success of her live show is due in part to her band. The quintet is obviously made up of musician’s who have complete mastery of their instruments, and could probably play anything, of any genre. In fact, they performed a brief tribute to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson, with an impromptu performance of ‘Rock with You’. “We just learned this during sound check” V.V. says with a laugh as she counts the band into the chorus of the iconic song. The audience appreciated the ode to the late great gloved one so much, that about 3 or 4 songs later, V.V. led the band back into it again. Letting the audience lead the song, V.V. danced around stage so carefree, you would have thought that she was home in her living room with no one watching.
But we were watching. And as an entertainer, Ms. Brown never forgot that. A woman in the front row was facetiming with her best friend so that she could be a part of the dancerie (Shout to Mary J Blige) despite being absent from the venue. Seeing this, V.V. grabs the phone out of the young lady’s hand and proceeds to facetime her performance with the friend on the other end. How dope is that?! Talk about spontaneous showmanship! And by the way, that as well, she did twice. The second time was during her DC live debut of the song “Circus Town”, also on the new album. Opening up to the audience at several points during the show, V. V. spoke candidly about inspiration for her songs and even got a little personal with us! Before going into her song ‘Like Fire ‘ she says “Is anyone in here in love? Is anyone in here horny? I’m horny cause I haven’t seen my boyfriend in like 2 weeks”. Who can’t relate to that level of honesty? Especially when the song that ensued was the s**t. V.V. says that song is her testimony. “It is like you are looking into my brain” is the way that V.V. described the song that she proudly wrote and produced. I say, that if sexual tension itself had a sound, this song would be it. Dissonant synthesized strings dominated the first section of the song setting the tone perfectly for the passionate sexy of the rest of the composition. Definitely one of my favorite musical moments of the night.
V.V. Brown performed other songs from the upcoming album, all of which have my stamp of approval. The last song she performed was her newest single ‘Children (feat. Chiddy)’. A funky pop rock tune with some definite hip hop infusion. The song starts off with a sample of the icecream truck melody. Yeah you know the one I’m talking about! I wouldn’t be surprised to see her get some crossover work as the song picks up traction on the air waves. I bought it on iTunes that night and I am already addicted to it. Solid, socially conscious lyrics and the hard, bass heavy beat combine to make it a hell of a song.
Ms. Brown, if you’re reading this, you’ve got a new fan for sure! I’m more than positive that I am not the only new fan you’ve garnered via your live show. If you’re reading this and you’re not Ms. Brown, you should make sure that the next time she’s in town, you’ve got a ticket.