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April 13, 2012 | 12:01 p.m. CST
Thursday night, fans gathered inside Jesse Hall to hear two-time Grammy winner R&B/Soul singer, Melanie Fiona, perform live.
Fiona, who released her sophomore album The MF Life in March, sang for nearly two hours.
The show opened with a lengthy performance by Komplete, a four-person R&B group that at times fell off pitch or flat but was overall entertaining. During the intermission, Bob Marley's “Buffalo Soldier” played in the background and got the crowd prepared for Fiona's reggae, R&B, jazz and soul-inspired music.
Fiona opened her set with the M-I-Z chant and asked the crowd if they were ready to live the MF life, a nod to her new album title. She sang her single "This Time," a traditional R&B ballad with a hip-hop edge while sampling a bit of Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" toward the end. She followed with a funky, more soulful song entitled "Aiming at You," which felt like a fusion between Janelle Monáe's upbeat tempo and Amy Winehouse's Motown ballads.
Fiona had fun with the crowd, singing “Happy Birthday” to two fans. She even brought one on stage while serenading him with "Rock Paper Scissors," a track off the deluxe edition of her album.
Fiona's performance was only about the music. There were no fancy props, auto-tune or records playing. She gave the crowd 15 songs, off of both albums, keeping a rhythmic balance between newer songs that only a few knew to older songs that everyone knew — including her Grammy winning duet with Cee Lo Green, "Fool for You," and her blues ballad, "Monday Morning." She showcased a strong vocal range that gave each song character and made her genre bending refreshing and unexpected.
She sang "Bones,” a reggae-inspired love song before leaving the stage only to be stomped back on stage by fans. She also sang "Gone and Never Coming Back" after a fan left a note on stage that says "please sing ‘Gone,’ it’s my favorite song." Fiona dedicated the song to Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson, and sang it with a gospel-like conviction and passion before walking off stage.
Fiona set herself apart as an artist who knows her talents. Her sophomore album might be the album that brings her not only to the top of the R&B charts, but the mainstream circuit as well. From rock to pop, soul to reggae, Fiona is one of the funkiest performers in the industry right now and is definitely one to watch.