Melanie Martinez @ o2 Academy, 8 December 2019

Melanie Martinez is an American singer-songwriter, actress and director rising to fame in 2012 after appearing on the American television vocal talent show The Voice. Tonight sees the K-12 tour hit Birmingham which causes queues to spiral around the entire block near the venue. This is probably one of the largest queues I’ve ever seen here with a  predominately younger crowd which includes parents too.

Prior to the opening of the gig the crowd burst into the chorus of Backstreet Boys I Want It That Way, god knows where that came from but it filled the place up. There are lots of false starts with the crowd thinking it was about to begin as the curtains opening a little before closing again.

Opening up is a video intro drawing us into a mansion, through the door and turning to a picture frame where we are given our first lesson (of many) for the night, Firstly Bus Etiquette. This proceeds with a moving bus animation as a row of dancers are simulating being on the bus. Melanie shows her charisma as she sings through and engages the fans at every opportunity.

Musically everything is on point despite all the movement, dancing and acting.  The staging is complemented with a huge display, including playground, school settings and ones where Melanie’s got herself into precarious situations and a scene from K-12. 

This is more than music, this is a choreographed show with dancers who can act and an array of visuals. There are some sexual and flirtatious elements throughout as well as comedic and serious messages hidden behind and within the music. At times you feel like you are in the film.

Lesson 2 was Community over competition, stating we all have something to offer the world.  This is followed by Lesson 3, Learn validation with yourself before others and stop underestimating your power. These are, I feel serious issues being talked about to help the younger audience have something to grow with.  Good guidance and messages to setup for their lives ahead. 

Strawberry Shortcake see’s a gigantic cake with Melanie atop of it, certainly a sight to see and surely delicious!  It is a shame it is not real, but it shows the lengths and dynamic scale with which to captivate the crowd and it easily does this.

Melanie is best known for a variety of hit songs, including Sippy Cup, Mad Hatter, Mrs Potato Head, Cry Baby, Pacify Her, Soap, Dollhouse and Pity Party as well as more recent Show and Tell. The fans sang along enthusiastically throughout pretty much of the entire set.  When they were asked to get their phones out and turn their lights on it was a sea of phones for all to share.

This truly was an unforgettable live performance.  The gig contained a lot of thought, great music and talent and a huge wardrobe (and that’s not just Melanie’s). There is no doubt she will be appearing in arena’s soon.

Setlist

Wheels On the Bus
Class Fight
The Principal
Show & Tell
Nurse’s Office
Drama Club
Strawberry Shortcake
Lunchbox Friends
Detention
Teacher’s Pet
High School Sweethearts
Recess
Mad Hatter
Alphabet Boy
Fire Drill

Reviewer: Chris Bowley

Photographer: Andy Watson

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