It's 2018 and TLC are still a force to be reckoned with
Is there any better feeling than witnessing a live performance that blows your expectations right out of the water?
It took less than 30 seconds for 90s R&B group TLC to prove they’re still dead serious about putting on a show.
They’re working in a tough space. It can be tricky territory navigating the best and worst of the old 90s stars. Some trade on past glories alone and cannot match the magic they provided over 20 years ago, which sadly means audiences can approach shows like this with great caution. Or, even worse, they don’t show up at all.
TLC can still deliver a show with the flamboyance and power that pop music thrives on.
But they played to a few thousand revellers as part of RNB Vine Days, an event that combines Australia’s adoration of winery shows and 90s R&B jams in one very clever little package. And the show will do nothing to sully their reputation.
They allowed no time for doubters, as their backing band blasted from the outset, four highly athletic dancers somersaulted on stage and flashy visuals and lights heralded the singers’ arrival.
From here, the two remaining members of the group, Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins and Rozonda ‘Chili’ Thomas (Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes died in 2002) delivered a masterclass in entertainment.
They didn’t fall out of step with their choreographed dance moves once, nor did they miss a note the entire time.
The setlist was a perfect trip down memory lane, the slinky ‘Diggin’ On You’, the irrepressibly dark ‘Creep’ and the purely anthemic ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Waterfalls’ all landing brilliantly, and sounding every bit as good as they ever did.
The stage show was brilliantly executed; the dancers provided non-stop excitement and the three-piece band delivered a tight, energised performance. The moves were slick, the movement of performers constant and the whole show delivered with too much vital energy to be a mere walk down memory lane.
There’s not a moment of the entire hour-long set where the audience is allowed to become bored, whether it’s Chili’s straddling and grinding of an audience member during ‘Red Light Special’, the overblown dance moves of their brilliant bassist or the flashes of light and occasionally intense visuals on the screen behind them.
There was no mention of Lopes at all during the set, but her presence was sorely missed. On occasion the backing track would play out a recording of her delivering one of her fiery verses. It felt weird, to be honest, but it’s tough to figure what an appropriate alternative would be. TLC was always those three women, a replacement would perhaps seem even more wrong,
There were some niggling issues. The vocals were so heavily processed that it was sometimes hard to believe they were actually live, if in fact they were. This, paired with the aforementioned Lopes verses and the over-reliance on a backing track to fill out the sound is a bit disconnecting.
But this show wasn’t about connection. It wasn’t supposed to be intimate. Pop music has forever been reliant on providing the slickest experience possible at any cost, and TLC have opted for perfection over anything else.
TLC's show was proof that one of the biggest pop acts of the 90s are still capable of pulling out all the stops and delivering a show with the flamboyance and power that pop music thrives on. And in that, they succeeded brilliantly.