Mindless Behavior + Conor Maynard + PW @ HMV Institute, Birmingham – 28th April 2012

Boy bands are big business at the moment and Mindless Behavior is no exception to the hype. According to the all-singing, all-dancing American teen quartet, their group name represents self-expression, and it’s this combination of talent and confidence that have allowed them to sell out shows in both the US and the UK. MB – formed of Prodigy, Roc Royal, Ray Ray and Princeton (all aged between 14 and 15) – played to an audience of mainly pre-teens (and their parents) at Birmingham’s HMV Institute and, hand on my ‘I-heart-mindless-behavior’ t-shirt, they did not disappoint.

But let’s start at the beginning: the support acts.

Upon entry the crowd were entertained by a five song set courtesy of North London rapper PW. While concert-goers filled the 600 capacity venue, PW, also known as Akheim Allen, treated us to a head-bopping, hand-throwing performance of ‘Red Bottom Beech’ (yes, it’s really called ‘Red Bottom Beech’), a track that boasts about a lady and her love for Louboutin footwear.

Before closing his set with his latest single, the Mark Asari-assisted track ‘On My Way’, PW engaged in a bit of crowd participation, asking the audience: “Who’s got Twitter? Who’s got Facebook? Who’s got BBM?”. After throwing a ‘#TeamPW’ t-shirt into the crowd, and the small scramble that followed, PW left the stage, leaving behind a satisfied audience.

Assuming that the first support act succeeded in warming up the crowd (which I’m sure he did!), it wouldn’t surprise me if they cooled right back down again, considering the time consuming set changes. Nonetheless, it was worth the wait because when the next support act arrived, he was accompanied by a full live band.

Brighton-born Conor Maynard needed no introduction, literally. As soon as he hit the stage, he jumped straight into his first track of the night: ‘Take Off’, treating us to a couple of dance moves during the intro. Towards the end of the song: “For those of you who don’t know, my name is Conor Maynard” clarified his existence to the audience who, for the the most part, knew exactly who he was, judging by the screams and the fact that he played a sold out show at the same venue only a few days prior.

It’s no secret that Maynard has become a somewhat ‘cover song connoisseur’ over the past couple of years, and his on-stage ode to Drake seemed to be much appreciated by the audience, who sang along to every word of the nineteen year-old’s rendition of ‘Marvin’s Room’ – the same track responsible for over 4 million of his Youtube views. However, this doesn’t, by any means, discredit his artistry, and while cover versions of popular tracks are usually a miss for some artists, for Conor, they further exemplify his obvious talent and vocal ability. Other cover tracks on the bill included Frank Ocean’s ‘Miss You So’, where Conor carried the audience into a slightly calmer place, showing off his soulful vocals in the process.

After a performance of ‘Animal’, which he declared “was made to blow the roof off”, he performed his top ten hit ‘Can’t Say No’.

Now it was time for the headlining act: Mindless Behavior. But not before another lengthy changeover time, which led to humorous, impromptu chants, such as: “Mind-less Be-hav-ior hur-ry up!” and discrete mother/daughter debates along the lines of: “No, Mom! It’s Roc Royal, not Ric Roc!”.

The headlining set began with a short role play to tease the crowd. With the band off stage, the audience overheard: “Aye Prodigy you ready? Ray Ray, is he ready? Roc Royal where you at? Aye Roc, will you make sure Princeton’s got his hair done?”, causing the audience to scream in anticipation throughout the entire introduction. Once the four-piece made it onto the stage, pandemonium ensued and the band performed over a prerecorded version of ‘No.1 Girl’, an infectious Pop/ R’n’B/ Dance hybrid, accompanied by full choreography where the guys worked the entire breadth of the stage.

Following ‘No.1 Girl’, the group performed ‘Future’, a track where we had the pleasure of hearing about how well they plan to treat their No.1 Girl once they find her. With super-sweet lyrics such including: “Girl I got a future. When I’m older imma know just what to do with ya”, it’s clear why they are are such a hit with their young, female fanbase.

Every song thereafter, unsuprisingly, had a reoccurring theme: girls – leaving a girl, in ‘Gone’; being talked about by girls, in ‘Girls Talkin’ Bout’ and being in a relationship with the right girl, in ‘My Girl’.

About five songs in, the stage lights disappeared and show ended abruptly – or at least appeared to end. That was until DJ Soundwave, the band’s DJ, in role-play mode, told Ray Ray: “Now, we did not get on an eight hour flight to leave like that” and, to be honest, I’m pretty sure the audience felt the exact same way.

Before leaving the stage for the final time, Prodigy, Roc Royal, Ray Ray and Princeton performed their UK debut single “Mrs. Right”, which was greeted by a chorus of screams and followed by plenty of sing-along activity.

While Prodigy appears to take the lead, all four members have an undeniable star quality and a certain stage presence that can only be acquired through practice, dedication and hard work. Taking their young age into account, you can’t help but see them and think: ‘Wow! These are some really cool kids’.

Review – Kamara Bennett
Photos – Katja Ogrin

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