It was a chilly Sunday night when thousands of eager Jhené Aiko fans queued outside Margaret Court Arena. Jhené Aiko announced an Australian tour early this year following the release of her critically acclaimed album, Trip.
The Los Angeles native rose to fame in 2013, following the success of her album Sail out. The E.P received a Grammy nomination for best contemporary album.
The opening acts were fairly local and did not disappoint. Mebourne’s Blasko graced the stage with his soulful songs ‘Another Love’ and ‘Know You Better’ although not many in attendance were aware of him prior to the concert, he gained some much needed exposure from his amazing performance. Ladi6, followed Blasko’s set with her own neo-soul experience. The New Zealand native performed her hit ‘Outta time’ and many more from her diverse discography. The veteran artist successfully hyped the crowd for Jhené’s entrance.
A short intermission occurred. Props of assorted flower arrangements were placed around the stage to give a garden effect. The crowd was jumping along to pop tunes when suddenly the music faded out and the arena became pitch black.
“Attention please, welcome to the trip tour, where living in the moment is highly encouraged and putting away cellphones is advised. Please no flash photography. Warning: there are extremely tricky visuals and strobing lights. Please take this time to note your nearest exits. Have a good time and enjoy your trip”
A short snippet from Jhené’s Trip movie played. The movie was released the day before her album dropped in September of 2017 and featured previews of all the songs from her album. The film follows her journey with a new lover while simultaneously dealing with the loss of her brother.
The lights then flickered on Jhené as she strutted on stage donning red sequined pants, white cropped shirt and her hair slicked back, an outfit that matched her groovy demeanor. The audience roared with loud noise providing her with a wholesome welcome back to Melbourne. She greeted everyone with a smile before delving into the performance with her soothing track ‘Jukai’.
Jhené then performed one of her hit songs ‘While We’re Young’ she quickly realised this a crowd favorite and instead faced the mic towards the crowd to sing to her “telling everyone you’re mine and I like it” they sang with excitement. ‘Sativa’ (named after her favourite plant) began playing visuals from the eclectic music video aided the set. Jhené followed this with a more mellow ‘New Balance’ even adding an extended freestyle, displaying her phenomenal vocal range.
The crowd was on a roller coaster ride the entire evening, with Jhené performing a combination of upbeat tracks quickly followed by slow jams. The bumpy ‘Never Call Me’ began playing, it was written following the aftermath of her break-up with ex-husband and producer, Dot Da Genius. She described in an interview with National Public Radio “I wrote this at the height of a very public breakup, don’t talk to other people about me; just talk to me. We’re the ones that were supposed to be in this relationship.” These thoughts were definitely shared with fans as they passionately sang along to the lyrics.
Jhené also sensing the crowds emotions to her track responded by saying “This is really like a therapy session for me… it means a lot to know I’m not alone in the things that I’m going through, you guys are singing along so passionately it backs me up like Okay.. I wasn’t the only one going through that..honestly life is a fucking trip” she concluded before diving back in with the soul rock ballads ‘Comfort Inn Ending’ and ‘The Worst’ the very songs that catapulted her into fame.
“Who’s had Mushrooms?!” asked Jhené to which a surprising number of the crowd affirmed with loud screams, she laughed while psychedelic visuals accompanied her singing her hallucinogenic track Psilocybin (Love In Full Effect). During the set clouds of heavy smoke emerged from various sections of the arena, some audience members decided to indulge in some psychedelic experiences of their own.
Throughout the evening Jhené performed a medley of other hit songs from her various albums including ‘Stay Ready’,’Bed Peace’ and ‘Post to Be.’ Fans danced along and enthusiastically swayed their arms.
As Jhené was wrapping up her Melbourne show she wanted to sing her final song but felt strange singing it alone. She invited the front two rows to come and dance on stage with her. ‘OLLA (Only Lovers Left Alive)’ the most upbeat track on the Trip album played as the audience and Jhené danced together. The concert concluded with Jhené thanking those in attendance for supporting her journey. As the crowd began to leave the arena, Jhené reappeared, much to the fan’s delight.
“Wait Wait Wait… I have one more song, I want you all to sing to me” A reference to her beautiful track ‘Sing To Me’ a song she wrote with her 9 year old daughter Namiko exploring the unbreakable connection between a mother and her daughter. Once again Jhené thanked everyone and left the stage.
Jhené Aiko concludes her Australian and New Zealand tour on the 26th of September in Sydney’s Hordern Pavillion.