Concert Review: Melanie Fiona wows hometown audience

Melanie Fiona
May 3rd 2013
The Phoenix, Toronto, Ontario
By Ann Marie Collymore

When a hometown artist returns back home to grace the stage for their first headlined show, you can bet there is a certain feeling of giddiness and accomplishment. Touring all around the world is, of course, a dream every artist wants to accomplish, but there’s nothing like coming back home where it all started. Melanie Fiona is Toronto’s own soul-singing Grammy and Juno Award winner. She’s accomplished, polished, and is absolutely a force to reckon with live. The lady of the hour came to The Phoenix in Toronto ready to party, ready to vibe out, and ready to shut the place down in her backyard.

Melanie Fiona
May 3rd 2013
The Phoenix, Toronto, Ontario
By Ann Marie Collymore

When a hometown artist returns back home to grace the stage for their first headlined show, you can bet there is a certain feeling of giddiness and accomplishment. Touring all around the world is, of course, a dream every artist wants to accomplish, but there’s nothing like coming back home where it all started. Melanie Fiona is Toronto’s own soul-singing Grammy and Juno Award winner. She’s accomplished, polished, and is absolutely a force to reckon with live. The lady of the hour came to The Phoenix in Toronto ready to party, ready to vibe out, and ready to shut the place down in her backyard.

Opening for Melanie was Brooklyn, New York duo Rocki Evans and Cobaine Ivory, aka CharleRED, boasting a blues and hip-hop influenced sound. With electrifying guitar segues and great instrumentation, they had everyone’s attention – even when they stoppedfor a moment to share in their influences with a Notorious B.I.G. and Ray Charles segment that was notable.  Unfortunately, vocals from front man Rocki Evans were a bit off-kilter and accompanied by unnecessary high-pitched scales that were not in tune with his vocal capabilities, sometimes sounding forced and other times flowing in sequence with his band. It was hit and miss a few times; however their sound on the whole could surely grow on you.

Melanie strutted on stage pumped and full of energy channeling her inner Tina Turner, taking control and showing plenty of leg. In unison with her background singers and never missing a step, she cranked up the attitude on “Watch Me Work” and “Bang Bang” with a shimmy and a two-step. She then grooved seamlessly into a guitar driven intro of the hit “Give It To Me Right,” integrated with The Zombies’ classic “Time Of The Season.” The party’s frenetic pace was slowed down for a minute with a jazzy rendition to “Monday Morning,” until Melanie decided to flip the script and turn it into overdrive.

After a rousing applause from the audience, everyone was taken through an emotional journey with mid-tempo and quiet storm love ballads. Ms. Fiona poured out her heart on her Grammy winning “Fool For You,” sang from her gut on “It Kills Me” and unquestionably withheld absolutely nothing on “Wrong Side Of A Love Song.” 

Finally reaching what had to be the highlight of the evening, Melanie turned The Phoenix into a dancehall and soca session with an a cappella version of “Somebody Come Get Me” and a rag-waving Caribana style fête that only Toronto could call its own. The night then seemingly came to a close with “Change The Record,” Break Down Your Walls” and “4 AM.” But the night wasn’t over, not by a long shot: As the everyone chanted for the diva’s return, her background singers harmonized like an Illinois quartet, unknowing to the spectators that Melanie was about to get into her version of hometown brethren Drake’s “Started From The Bottom.’ Melanie basically took over the reigns from then on in, going totally against the set list to please her Toronto fans. As everyone shouted out requests, she put her a cappella touches on “Rock Paper Scissors,” “This Time,” and “Sad Songs.” 

Melanie Fiona bid adieu to the crowd with her Juno winning song “Gone And Never Coming Back.” She declared that she doesn’t make music for radio to say it’s hot; she makes music so people can come through to listen to what they like and enjoy. Toronto fans turned out in the masses to watch the home girl do her thing. No one went home dissatisfied because she represented for her hometown crew. That was no doubt a very special moment for Melanie Fiona. The night of May 3rd 2013 will go down in the books for one of Toronto’s own.  

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