Trey Songz – review

Hammersmith Apollo, London

In the wake of Chris Brown's fall from grace in 2009, the music industry needed a replacement: a photogenic male singer appealing to teenagers and adults. Trey Songz, a hitherto third-tier R&B crooner, found himself filling the niche, and he has met the challenge with surprising aplomb. His momentum is evidenced by a sold-out crowd of 5,000 screaming teenage girls – and, indeed, adult women – who manage to intensify their hysteria every time Songz hits a high note or slows the beat down. By the end, inevitably, underwear is thrown.

Sex appeal is key to this: Songz happily objectifies himself as much as any female pop artist, starting the show in shades, leather jacket, T-shirt and vest – all of which have been stripped off by the final song. But what he has also done is transmute his former ordinariness into boy-next-door appeal. Even as Songz plays the horndog – "This bedroom is my colosseum," he sings – there's something endearingly puppyish about him. Moreover, he tends to focus not on bragging about his prowess, but on how you – yes, you, the girl in the front row, in the red top – make him feel. Tonight's set is mostly composed of slow jams and ballads that adeptly blend sincerity and carnality – particularly in recent material such as Doorbell and Can't Be Friends, which possesses a depth and richness previously lacking.

Songz doesn't yet have the natural charisma of an Usher or R Kelly – and it doesn't help in this regard that his vocals are too quiet. One of the show's high points is actually due to another artist's absence, when the entire audience raps Nicki Minaj's guest verse on Bottoms Up, inflection for inflection. But Songz is a study of how star quality can be achieved by sheer hard graft: he does his darnedest to prove himself worthy of his new status.


Alex Macpherson

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Trey Songz – review

From Alexander O'Neal pastiches to groin-cradling to frottage – this was a descent into Fifty Shades of Trey, writes Mark Beaumont

Mark Beaumont

31, Jan, 2013 @1:19 PM

Article image
Trey Songz: Trigga review – seductive power

It might all feel a little mechanical, but Trey Songz's carnal enthusiasms and R&B mores do hang together, says Paul MacInnes

Paul MacInnes

26, Jun, 2014 @10:30 PM

Trey Songz: Chapter V – review
He's not the most charismatic of R&B stars, but Trey Songz's eye and ear for detail keeps him firmly in the game, writes Alex Macpherson

Alex Macpherson

16, Aug, 2012 @9:00 PM

Article image
Trey Songz surrenders to LAPD to face domestic violence charge
The US singer has denied allegations that he hit a woman at a party in Los Angeles

Laura Snapes

20, Mar, 2018 @8:26 AM

Article image
Drake – review
A sea of Fake-Baked girls and Dalston hipsters got very excited about this tormented figure pacing the stage, writes Alexis Petridis

Alexis Petridis

27, Mar, 2012 @5:14 PM

Article image
Lovebox – review

The stars strut their stuff on stage but it's at the edges that Lovebox really thrives, writes Stevie Chick

Stevie Chick

22, Jul, 2013 @5:49 PM

Jason Derülo – review
The all-singing and dancing Jason Derülo seems laboratory-calculated to keep teenage girls screaming. It's all brutally cynical, but very enjoyable, writes Dave Simpson

Dave Simpson

23, Feb, 2011 @7:15 PM

Article image
Erykah Badu – review
Treating her back catalogue like a living, breathing entity, Erykah Badu was on robust form, writes Alex Macpherson

Alex Macpherson

29, Jun, 2012 @3:21 PM

Article image
Frank Ocean – review

For all his undoubted brilliance, R&B's new superstar lacks stage presence, writes Dorian Lynskey

Dorian Lynskey

10, Jul, 2013 @6:34 PM

Article image
Jennifer Lopez – review

Thundering around the stage, shaking hands with overwhelmed fans, Lopez is warm, funny and, despite the gloss, very 'real', writes Caroline Sullivan

Caroline Sullivan

23, Oct, 2012 @11:13 AM