Grammy-award-winning singer Chris Brown brought his ‘Under The Influence’ Tour to The O2 for an incredible seven nights, marking his first solo headlining UK Tour in over 12 years…
1) When he stepped on stage
Ever since Chris Brown joined Wizkid onstage at The 02 Arena in November 2021 – marking his first UK appearance in over a decade – there’s been huge anticipation for a UK tour. Therefore, when he announced his first headlining tour in the country for over 12 years it was no surprise when it sold out instantly. On the night, as they poured into the show people were expressing their excitement to see Chris Brown perform in the flesh and the anticipation was palpable.
2) When Chris Brown flew onto the stage
With wires I should add… the crowd erupted as he started to perform ‘Indigo’ and then without delay went straight into the old school hits with ‘Beautiful People’, ‘Yeah x3’ and ‘Ayo’ coming thick and fast. The atmosphere in the sold-out arena was incredible as people sang and danced along to these nostalgic hits, enhanced by Brown adding flair to his performance with the dance moves he’s become famous for.
3) The Dance Masterclass
It should come as no surprise that one of the highlights of a Chris Brown concert was the dancing and choreography, as he’s gained a reputation for combining the two art forms of dance and music in ways that not too many performers have. He was joined by a large ensemble of immensely talented backup dancers who added another dimension to the show that didn’t distract from the music but brought fun and excitement.
4) When the visual effects took effect
The huge screens spanning the stage took the audience on a journey through a futuristic Metropolis, seemingly representative of Chris Brown’s own journey and career throughout his different iterations. The glowing visuals were combined with strobe lights and smoke cannons to create an immersive experience reminiscent of Downtown Tokyo or even Blade Runner.
5) The set-list doing its thing
The show was a whistle-stop tour through Chris Brown’s career, taking us on a trip through all his different styles and eras. His 50-song setlist was a stark reminder of how strong his discography is; arguably undermined as he is considered by some to be a controversial artist. It was refreshing that he celebrated his early hits and made them an integral part of the show because as an artist with so much recent success, he could have easily ignored his roots and hits that made him famous in the first place.
6) The transitions of the show
The opening section of the show focused on Chris Brown’s early hits but he soon moved on to his more recent hits with ‘Heat’ and ‘C.A.B (Catch a Body).’ Understandably these songs didn’t quite have the same energy as songs like ‘Turn Up the Music’ or ‘Don’t Wake Me Up’ that came before but it was interesting to see his career progression from Electronic Pop to more Trap-heavy R&B as he moved with the times.
7) The Chris Brown Game Show
One of the highlights of the performance was a game show in which the audience had to pick which song Brown sang. There were three rounds with the first being a choice between ‘Yo’, ‘Ya Man Ain’t Me’ and ‘Say Goodbye’ which the latter won. The second round was a choice between ‘No Air’, ‘Five More Hours’ and ‘Fine China’ to which ‘Fine China’ won, apparently for the first time. Admittedly I was disappointed as I’d have loved to have heard ‘No Air’ performed for nostalgia’s sake. The final round was a choice between ‘Forever’, ‘New Flame’ and ‘Ain’t No Way’ which ended in a tie between ‘Forever’ and ‘New Flame.’ He performed both and one of the highlights of the entire night was an acapella performance of ‘New Flame’ in which the whole arena sang along with Chris Brown, creating an unforgettable moment. It was a brilliant way to ramp up the energy before the climactic finale.
8) The show’s outro
The game show section of the set revitalised the crowd, which led to an exciting ending to the show with ‘Loyal’ and ‘No Guidance’ and ‘Go Crazy’ bringing the energy to a peak. Breezy is a divisive artist but there is no doubting his talent and performance capabilities and there will certainly be even more demand to see the R&B icon back in London in the future.
Words by Adam Davidson
Photos by Samir Hussein