Music / Feature

What we learned from seeing TLC live in London

The RnB legends return to the UK in November.

Some fifteen years since RnB trio TLC broke onto the urban scene, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas embarked across the Atlantic for their first headline show in the UK. Without Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who sadly passed in a car accident back in 2002, the remaining pair took to London’s KOKO for a relatively intimate first outing on these shores. Champaign suitably flowed, the show as much of a celebration of their career as a means to showcase new material from their then unreleased self-titled new album.

TLC stamped a ferocious independence on the music scene, driven by an empowering attitude that underpinned a proportion of the urban scene in the early 90s. Lyrically, they were in charge. Any sexualisation was under their own terms. Lyrically they promoted individuality and self-acceptance, not least in their challenging yet uplifting Unpretty. They tackled themes of AIDS and gang culture in their smash hit Waterfalls, and even their self-confidence was at the forefront of the iconic No Scrubs.

In November 2017, T-Boz and Chilli return for their first ever UK tour. Here are just some of the things we learned by watching their headline show at KOKO that hint at the big things to come.


They put on a show

They made a name for their energy, both on and off the stage, and a few years away haven’t taken away from just that. Their KOKO show was a visual spectacular, complete with gold backdrops, a wealth of back-up dancers, a live band, costume changes, and a healthy dose of dance moves. None of that distracted from their music either, elevating some of the best RnB tracks in recent history. It was a vibrant and as sultry as fans would expect.


They are still very much in charge

T-Boz owned the stage. Her demeanour dripped with a powerful confidence. Chilli was a little more reserved, but oozed with self-assurance. During their hyper-sexual Red Light Special, Chilli pulled an unsuspecting crowd-member to the stage, performing a skilful dance around him. She remained firmly in charge. It was indicative of their command of the stage, something years of performing has evidently perfected.


They still have it

Their KOKO setlist was spliced with new songs, from lead single and Snoop Dogg featuring Way Back to the then unheard Joyride. The funk running throughout their new tracks matched the now retro sound of their earlier material. The energy was amplified, above and beyond even the punch of their well-received new record. “Haters gonna hate,” they offered in new track Haters, but you would have been hard pushed to find any in the room.


They go way back

It’s not all about the new hits either. Their setlist featured its fair share of older tracks, all the way back to their Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip debut. Following the opening number, they launched straight into What About Your Friends and Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg, both of which proved their serious old-school credentials. TLC originated a sound all their own, and it was on full display.


It can get even bigger

As if the songs weren’t big enough already, TLC weren’t afraid to push it to the next level. It all built up to their absolutely huge Waterfalls, joined on stage by a gospel choir. It rounded off an evening of pure entertainment with spine-tingling accuracy. The possibility to see some favourites live mixed with a seriously cool performance to cement a brilliantly memorable night.


Catch the action for yourself on the following dates:

5 November – Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
8 November – O2 Apollo, Manchester
9 November – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow
11 November – Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff
13 November – Hammersmith Eventim Apollo, London
16 November – Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham

Remaining tickets are on sale now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.

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