Blige eclipsed at city concert

Occasionally the singer takes to the stage and the talent shows through as he or she morphs to another persona. At other times it's as though the entertainer was put under a magnifying glass,...

By Robert Flemming (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sat 10 Jun 2006, 12:15 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:43 PM

revealing the flaws and the deficits hidden by the hype. And sometimes that same glass will transform the performer into a star.

After a week of interviews and serious advertising, Mary J Blige appeared at the Madinat Arena on Thursday night with the little known Canadian Karl Wolf opening the concert. Off stage Wolf had been full of dynamic energy and boundless enthusiasm for his music. After a year of semi seclusion in the studio, he was ready to meet the people and prove himself to be a true musician. On the other hand Blige had been less communicative during interviews, answering questions in flat dispassionate tones at odds with the striking flame red dress which she wore. Where Wolf was well aware of the Blige musicology, despite her apparent keenness to promote young talent she was unaware of either Wolf's existence or his work.

Wolf burst onto the stage wearing a hip, knitted skull cap, white jacket, singlet and belted jeans that bore a diamante initial 'K' as a buckle. Breaking into a rendition of 'Summer Days (& Summer Nights in Beirut)' from his new album, 'Face Behind the Face', he took his audience on a fast moving musical ride that never faltered. His verbal and physical interaction with the audience was reminiscent of Robbie Williams albeit without the comic asides. Wolf barely needed the two gyrating dancers as he proved himself to be both musician and showman. And on leaving the stage, Wolf graciously asked the crowd to give a big welcome to the 'star' of the evening, Mary J Blige.

Without a genuine interval there still seemed a long wait before the 'Queen' of R&B entered stage left. Dispensing with the red dress, Blige walked to the mike wearing her standard issue shades, a monochrome combination of white top with black waistcoat and culottes. Seemingly ignoring the welcoming cheers, she launched into 'Breakthough' from her new album but the keenness was lacking. At times she seemed almost bored to be there and her voice relied more on the power of the sound system than its intrinsic power.

Previous artistes have said that they judge the success of their performance on the reactions of the audience when leaving. The numbers of people seemed far less than the anticipated 4000 and none could be heard singing the songs as they headed home or up towards the more physical music at Trilogy. And unusually there were few comments made as they walked away.

Irrespective of likes and dislikes, if stage presence, enthusiasm and musical skills are to be judged, this was the night when Karl Wolf duly eclipsed Mary J Blige.

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