Last Friday, Union Events brought out Melanie Fiona, alongside Leila Dey and CharlieRED, to an incredibly captivating concert at the Pheonix Concert Theater. What was special about this night was that for once, the music transcended age, and everybody from the young singers to the mom and pops on their date night were out – even Toronto’s Ambassador, Mr. Kardinal Offishall, showed up and showed out that night.
Starting not long after the doors opened, Remix graduate Leila Dey (formerly known as PG) took the stage. Me, ultimately being used to rapper time, showed up late and missed her performance. So, I took to her latest video “Place for You” to be able to tell you that the young singer has talent and I’ll be sure to be on R&B time, next time.
Right at 10, a man hobbled onto the stage behind a piano and the rest of the 3-piece band (including DJ,) set up. Little did I know that the crutch hobbler ended up being Cobaine Ivory, 1/2 of the duo CharlieRED. The rhythmic duo is a clash between soul and blues, and hip-hop – which makes sense; after all they intertwine all day long. Opening their ode to “Norah Jones,” the smoky vibe and sultry vocals laid down the perfect foundation for the rest of their show. Rocki Evans, the other half of the duo, took a moment to give James Brown a birthday shoutout, following a rendition of Ray Charles’ “Night Time is the right Time.” Then the duo flipped the script, and paid tribute to the one and only, Notorious B.I.G…. how’s that for diversity? Stage presence was on point, vocals were on point and the band was incredible, ultimately gaining new fans and setting up the stage for Melanie Fiona just right.
With a Canadian flag in her back pocket, a 4-piece live band and 2 background singers, Melanie Fiona appropriately came out to “Watch Me Work.” I said to my friend you knew this girl was in her hometown because her gun finger was stronger than a rifle and her bodyrolls were straight out of Guyana. With the energy at a high, Melanie carried on with “Bang Bang,” then settling with a sultry version of “Give It To Me Right.” Captivated by her stage prescience and vocals, Melanie dived into “Monday Morning” and the Nas-featured “Running.” Taking a breather, Ms. Fiona took a moment to address her latest project “The MF Life, implying the two-letters also stood for My Feelings, Motha’ Fuckin’ Life, and Magnificent Fantastic. There was a moment in the night when the entire crowd connected – not as fans, but as cultural inhabitants of the West Indian influenced Toronto. Waving hands left to right, the crowd was a scene out of soca fete…and absolutely nobody complained.
Then, Melanie continued to perform “Without You” and “It Kills Me,” alongside “Help Me” and “4AM” effortlessly. I really mean effortlessly. The power in her vocals and the wisdom in her voice are absolutely breathtaking, and I believe the entire crowd also realized that.
Coming through with a Toronto fitted on, the most interesting moment of the night may have been Melanie’s cover of Drake’s “Started From the Bottom.” She. Killed. It. It was a brave move, but to see her take on another hometown hero’s joint was a joy. Likewise, she told the story of how “I Been That Girl” came about, and how she co-wrote it with Drake to let everyone know that we’re all human. Ending the night, she got personal with her fans – something you rarely see. Melanie stood taking song request, performing them acapella, if not loosely accompanied by a beat. Belting out tracks like “Rock, Paper, Scissors,” “Sad Songs” and “This Time.”This went on until she was told the lights were about to be turned on.
From the dancing, to the passion, the attitude to the humbleness, Melanie Fiona was in her element – she was at home. I almost feel like Melanie Fiona’s discography warrants a 2-hour concert at the ACC, with all the features too. As a singer, as a woman and as a powerhouse, Melanie Fiona’s growth has been an incredible journey, and right now, there’s very little standing in her way.
Check out the full gallery shot by Victoria Charko below!
Melanie Fiona | Toronto | May 03, 2013
Photographer: Victoria Charko