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Estelle Shines Chicago's House of Blues

House of Blues - Chicago, IL, USA - February 25, 2009

by Toyin Alaka, photos by Adam Bielawski

EstelleEstelle is an entertainer. Her onstage crew consisted of two male backup singers/dancers, a drummer, a bassist and a keyboardist as well as a DJ. She's got an English accent which in itself makes people take notice. I know that it draws people in. She's very at ease with herself on stage and talks to her audience as though she is talking to her best girlfriends. That's exactly how she started her set, she talked to the audience, told them about the song she was about to perform. She performed "So Much Out the Way," "No Substitute Love," "More Than Friends" and "Shine" all from her album Shine. In between talking to her audience, she curses a bit like a sailor, however it's part of her keep it real charm. She's got a certain style that's new and fresh as well as reminiscent of the oldies but goodies, she slides easily from songs on her album to hits by the Temptations and then disco queen CeCe Penniston's "You've Got to Show Me Love" which was mixed surprisingly yet beautifully with her hit "American Boy" driving the audience wild. She even did a cover of Coldplay's "God Put a Smile on My Face." Very diverse, her range is a hip hop vibe with a silky crooning reminiscent of old school mastery.

Solange KnowlesSolange on the other hand has a little more growing up to do on stage. Her stage presence was not the best; she seemed unsure of herself and didn't seem to know how to work the stage and the audience to her advantage. The sound acoustics were terrible; it seemed that the track to her music was turned up too high, so that you couldn't really get a sense of her voice. Her performance was disjointed and a little unruly. She performed Sandcastle Disco, I Decided, T.O.N.Y., Would've Been the One and Champagne Chronik Nightcap (not on her album). The audience including, yours truly knew the songs (the album is actually a good listen); however the live performance was disappointing. At the end of her set she came off stage into the audience and did a little dance, then she left the stage, she came back out and proceeded to do a little wild dance, then she threw the mic stand to the side of the stage and almost hit someone in the audience, she apologized and said she didn't mean to do that, then left the stage awkwardly. I like her music however her live performance needs some fine tuning.