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Live Review: Pharrell Williams @ Riverstage 12/03/14

It is undoubtedly true that 2013 belonged to Pharrell Williams. It was his name on everyone’s lips as he appeared in three of the biggest-selling singles of 2013 – Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’, Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and global number 1 ‘Happy’. Williams was recently in the country for Future Music Festival but did some sneaky side shows in Perth and Brisbane, which turned out to be a mini festival of its own!

The night started out early at 7pm with a DJ set from Sydney artist and Triple J host, Nina Las Vegas. Although it was early and the venue was only half full, Nina busted out a surprisingly enjoyable set of funky hip hop and trap tunes to the mellow and seated crowds. Next up was the talented American producer, Baauer who took to the decks with a thirst to get the crowd pumped up. His set contained many hip hop crowd pleasers from Missy Elliot and Rhianna, to Iggy Azalea and Lil Wayne. Although it was noted Baauer left out his worldwide hit ‘Harlem Shake’, he nailed the job of getting the crowd frothing for Pharrell.

Not too long after Pharrell walked on stage accompanied by two bootylicious dancers, an eye catching backdrop of beautiful women and a female DJ dropping a steady bass beat. The anticipation and excitement had the whole crowd jittery. The atmosphere was electric. Pharrell gave the screaming crowd a sassy smile and simply said, “I want to know your name!” as the DJ launched into Swedish House Mafia’s ‘One (Your name)’ and the crowd broke into dance.

While I had hesitations that the show would be one big promotion of Pharrell’s new album the night was in fact a tribute to Pharrell’s portfolio of work stretching over 10 years, from his days in N.E.R.D to his 2013 hit ‘Happy’. I forgot how many hit songs Pharrell has actually been a part of creating, that was until he sang us a medley of his past collaborations like ‘Hollarback girl’, ‘Drop it Like it’s Hot’, ‘Give it 2 Me’ and ‘Hot in Here’. And boy, did we want to take off all our clothes…

Pharrell sure knows how to woo a crowd as he told us, ‘Australia may be known as the land down under, but I know that it’s in fact the land on top!’ He then went on to thank all of his Australian fans for all their support over the years claiming none of his success would have been possible without them. Just as we were all falling deeper in love with him, Pharrell told the security guards that he needed some ‘oestrogen’on stage, inviting 10 or so girls to come join him before serenading them with ‘Blurred Lines’, ‘Aerosol Can’ and ‘Brand New’.

 When he started playing ‘Get Lucky’ there was not a booty in the whole of the Riverstage that did not get its boogie on.  We sang along while pointing to the stars and felt like the luckiest people on the planet in that moment before Pharrell launched into a 5 minute spiel on ‘happiness’ which of course led to his worldwide sensation, ‘Happy’. This song was such a perfect way to end the show that even Pharrell decided it was an amazingly special moment by breaking the rules and jumping into the crowd to play the song for a second time.

In the lead up to the show I had read that Pharrell planned on making his Australian shows something really special in order to express his gratitude for Australia’s ongoing support over the years, but nothing prepared me for the wonderful trip down memory lane and surprisingly philosophical speeches Pharrell delivered on Wednesday night at the Riverstage. It was a solid performance and a wildly entertaining night.

Pharrell concluded the night by telling the audience to, “Repeat after me, ‘I am from Brisbane and I will change the world someday… starting with this word, ‘happy.’ Good night, I love you!”

I love you too, Pharrell.

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