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Live Review: MNEK @ Gorilla, Manchester - 8/10/18

MNEK dominates in a storming debut headline show

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PHOTO: Charlotte Rutherford


As MNEK so aptly put it in his killer new single 'Correct', when you listen to him, "you're now rocking with the best". And after approximately 70 minutes of his first headline show, I can confidently testify that there have never been truer words. MNEK put on a show so colourful, energetic and positively electric that I wish I could've gone on again the next evening. After his debut record Language recently failed to garner as positive a reception as he would've wanted, MNEK told the crowd that he was worried no one would even come - and the room was in fact packed to the brim. I've never seen a show like it - the energy in the room was contagious.

Before I delve into the delectable details of the show, I should briefly note just how great MNEK's opening act Alice Chater was. Dressed like an Eastern-European spy in a 90s action film, she whipped through a set of rock-solid, defiantly sensual pop bangers that should quickly establish her as one of the most exciting names in pop. 'Hourglass' and 'Girls x Boys' were particular highlights - and she also had a pretty cracking voice to boot.

In the minutes leading up to MNEK's appearance on stage, the anticipation was at peak point. When his dancers - four black males, two of them openly and proudly femme - strutted on stage, we all pretty much erupted. Show opener 'Correct' prompted a raucous reaction from the crowd as we sung every word back to a clearly joyous MNEK. Decked out in a sequinned mermaid-green suit (and looking every inch a superstar), he proceeded to storm through a series of his best-known hits - including 'Never Forget You' and underrated dance banger 'Ready for Your Love'. Throughout all these earworms, his dancers were absolutely incredible, voguing and twirling with impeccable style. I should give special mention to Busola Peters. Look him up on Instagram, you won't regret it.

After whipping through his best-known hits, MNEK issued a disclaimer to everyone gathered in the Gorilla that he wanted to welcome us with some of his more famous numbers, and that he would now be segueing into some album tracks. He seemed anxious that the crowd would suddenly fall flat - and he couldn't have been more wrong. Phone lights were in the air during stunning ballads 'Touched by You' and 'At Night (I Think About You)' - the latter being given the acoustic treatment. The crowd whipped into a feverish frenzy during electrifying house numbers 'Free' and 'Crazy World'. And the crowd sung pretty much every word along to his sharp take on having sex with straight boys on the DL on potential single 'Girlfriend'. And when MNEK returned for his encore to album lead single 'Tongue', it topped off for me a show that demonstrated just how criminal it is that he's not a world-dominating superstar yet. Unapologetically queer, black and femme, MNEK held nothing back in a headline show that deserves to set him on the path to superstardom.

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