BBC 1Xtra Live at Liverpool: An Urban Celebration

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Written by Liam Hughes
It was BBC 1Xtra’s fourth day of touring the country in celebration of the best of urban talent and the team took over Liverpool’s Echo Arena to bring performances fro

It was BBC 1Xtra’s fourth day of touring the country in celebration of the best of urban talent and the team took over Liverpool’s Echo Arena to bring performances from John Newman, Iggy Azalea, Nelly and Robin Thicke along with a set from surprise guest, Tinie Tempah.
Kicking off proceedings was John Newman, a soulful 23 year old Leeds graduate of music. With numerous number ones under his belt – including his debut single ‘Love Me Again’ and ‘Feel the Love’ collaboration with London ravers, Rudimental – Newman had earned his place on the Liverpool line-up.
With possibly one of the most distinctive vocal styles in pop today, Newman’s success is no surprise. The singer, who not only writes, produces and remixes his own music, also designs his own clothes and put on a show stopping performance that had the audience jiving along to his Northern Soul-esque tracks.
Mesmerising stage presense
Next up was Australian rapper, Iggy Azalea. After taking the US hip hop scene by storm and receiving millions of YouTube hits, Iggy has released three singles in the UK – her latest ‘Change Your Life’ was released at midnight last night – and fans are eagerly anticipating her debut album, ‘The New Classic’.
The hip hop star has been compared to global stars such as Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha, however, there seems to be rawness to Iggy that allows her to appear completely genuine. Her presence on stage is completely mesmerising, whilst her funny and articulate lyrics about boys, dramas and insecurities forge to create a truly unique act.
Part of Iggy’s charm is her choreography, which includes the now infamous ‘twerking’. Unlike other acts that use it to appeal to the opposite sex, Iggy, cutting a figure that all women are envious of, is there to have a good time and make sure that bums are off seats bouncing along with her banging tracks. She certainly achieved this in the Echo arena setting the bar for the male rappers featured in the line-up, including Nelly.
Nelly the one hit wonder?
It’s ridiculous to think it’s been 13 years since the Missouri rapper smashed onto the scene with debut, ‘Country Grammar’. It’s also preposterous to think that Nelly was ever considered a one-hit wonder as he took to the Liverpool stage to provide a nostalgic trip through his hip hop story.
The audience were reminded of hits, including ‘Ride Wit Me’, ‘Hot in Herre’, ‘Shake Ya Tailfeather’ whilst being introduced to new material ‘Get Like Me’, which features guests Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams, who seems to has the Midas touch when it comes to guests spots.
Being the middle act seemed an unusual place for Nelly to be featured in the line-up as with his track record he could have easily headlined. But with his absence after the flop of his last album, he must have felt the need to prove something. And prove something he did as the crowd bowed down allowing the old king of R’n’B to reclaim his crown, showing there is no need to undergo an extreme makeover to achieve new success.
Tickets at Tinie prices
The big surprise of the night was the appearance from Tinie Tempah; allowing the audience to get even more value for money on the £10 tickets.
He tore the roof off 1Xtra Live tour in his debut year, 2010 and so it seemed only fit to make a return as he anticipates the release of his second album, Demonstration. Not content with the roars of the audience, Tinie goes on to wow the audience with a performance of new single, ‘Children of the Sun’ bringing out featured Swedish House Mafia associate, John Martin as special guest.
It might have seemed appropriate to have Robin Thicke as Liverpool’s headliner because he has had the biggest song of the year so far – ‘Blurred Lines’ reached number one in 18 countries around the world. However, the singer, surrounded by controversy from that twerking incident with Miley Cyrus and accusations of misogynistic behaviour, was a real let down.
Misogynistic behaviour proved a let down
Admiringly the staging was stripped back with Robin dressed in a plain three-piece grey suit and only three backing singers in figure hugging white dresses gyrating at his every move, unlike the plethora of scantily-clad women in the ‘Blurred Lines’ video. However, the problem came with the set list.
After a long night of performances from acts that have more than one or two recognisable songs, the audience was left disappointed with Thicke’s back catalogue as he has only had two singles hit the top 40 in the UK. 
Opening with ‘Give It To You’, which was welcomed with big cheers, the audience sat down as he played the rest of his largely unfamiliar material. You could sense the audience looking at their watches and tapping their feet impatiently waiting for him to satisfy their hunger. And he did just that as ‘Blurred Lines’ was the biggest song of the night and the perfect end to the show.