The 2023 Fridayz Live was a vibrant blend of youth and experience, with the seasoned groove enthusiasts leading the charge, ready to relive the heydays of rhythm and blues. At Sydney's Giants Stadium, known for its sporting triumphs, the scene was set for a different kind of victory—a celebration of soulful melodies shared by a crowd that spanned generations. Entry was a breeze, with signs as clear as the nostalgia in the air, ushering attendees to an evening where classic tunes reigned supreme. This was an affair where maturity met melody—adults were in their element, and the younger attendees caught a glimpse of the musical foundations that shaped today’s hits. As the arena swelled with fans, the giant screens flickered to life with vintage music videos, stirring up memories best served with a side of "Remember this one?". And in the interludes, DJ Yo! Mafia skillfully bridged the gaps between acts, keeping the crowd's energy in sync with the night's nostalgic pulse.
The gates opened at 04:30pm, and right on cue at 5pm The festival kicked off with Travie McCoy, who instantly electrified the crowd with his hit song with Fall Out Boy’s Patrick Stump "Cupid's Chokehold”. The air buzzed with energy as he transitioned into "Billionaire", the crowd echoing every word, their voices rising like a choir of aspiration. McCoy moved across the stage with a charisma that felt both larger-than-life and intimately engaging, his presence as captivating as his music. His performance of "Stereo Hearts'' was a nostalgic embrace, with each lyric weaving a tapestry of collective memories in the stadium.
In between songs, McCoy shared snippets of his tour life, bringing the audience into his world with warmth and humour. His candid moments created a bond that transcended the typical artist-audience barrier, making each attendee feel like a part of his musical journey. As his set concluded, the applause was thunderous, a fitting tribute to a performance that was not just heard, but deeply felt.
As the official President of Party, Fat Man Scoop was the glue that held the night together. His presence was larger than life, a hype man extraordinaire who kept the energy sky-high. Between acts, he was the charismatic conductor, orchestrating the crowd’s enthusiasm, ensuring the excitement never waned. His interaction with the audience was a mix of humor, hype, and heart, making every moment he was on stage feel like a party in itself.
JoJo stepped onto the stage next, and there was an immediate shift in the atmosphere. Clad in a striking ensemble of black and sparkling hues, she was a vision of both power and grace. Her opening number was a display of vocal prowess, each note resonating with the depth of emotion that defines her music. The stage transformed under her command, the backup dancers adding layers of visual storytelling to her soul-stirring songs.
JoJo’s set was a journey through her hits, each one a reminder of her versatility and impact on the RnB scene. "Say Love" filled the stadium with a heartfelt vibe, while "Too Little, Too Late" had fans singing along to every word, reliving their own stories through her lyrics. The climax was "Leave (Get Out)", an anthem that had the entire crowd on its feet, dancing and singing in unison. It was more than a performance; it was a shared experience of music’s timeless power.
112 accompanied by DJ Stormy, with Slim and Mike at the helm, brought a smooth, soulful energy to the stage. Their performance of hits such as “Dance With Me” and”Peaches and Cream” had couples swaying and the entire stadium clapping in unison. Their set was a nostalgic journey, culminating in the emotional rendition of “Missing You”, a song that resonated with the audience on a profound level, evidenced by the tears and smiles it conjured.
When Kelly Rowland took the stage, it was as if the stadium had been waiting just for her. In her signature all-denim attire, she was a throwback icon with a modern twist, like your favourite 90s jam remixed for today's charts. Her opening bars of "Dilemma" sent a wave of nostalgia washing over the crowd. She sang with a richness and depth that only years of belting out chart-toppers can bring, her voice as smooth and comforting as a well-aged wine. The crowd, hanging onto every note, found themselves transported back to days of dial-up internet and chunky flip phones. When you could only send text messages using Microsoft Excel…if you know you know.
But Kelly wasn't just there to sing; she was there to put on a show. And what's a queen without her court? Enter her team of backup dancers, turning the stage into a canvas of fluid motion and vibrant energy. While Kelly’s voice soared, her dancers' glided across the ground. They were a whirlwind of synchronized steps and spins, interpreting each lyric with their bodies in a way that would make even the most seasoned of "So You Think You Can Dance" judges nod in approval. Her dive into the Destiny's Child hits was a high point of the night, the crowd erupting with each familiar intro. The performance culminated with "Like This", It was the perfect recipe for a memorable night - one part nostalgia, two parts talent, and a dash of dazzle.
The Boyz II Men's entrance in all-white was a nod to their timeless elegance. Their harmonies were as smooth as ever, with "Motown Philly" sending a wave of energy through the crowd. Their set was a seamless blend of classic hits and heartfelt engagement promoting love and even getting the audience to interact with each other. "Motown Philly" brought an upsurge of energy, the crowd moving in sync with the beat. Wanyá, in particular, stole the show with his immaculate dance steps, reminding everyone that rhythm and blues are as much about the rhythm as they are about the blues.
As they moved into heartfelt songs like "On Bended Knee", the emotional depth of their music was palpable, their voices weaving a narrative of love and longing that resonated with every listener. The performance of "I'll Make Love to You" was a standout, with roses being tenderly tossed to the audience, a symbolic gesture of the love they shared with their fans.
The indigenous flag thrown to Shawn during the performance added a layer of connection that went beyond music, and touched on deeper cultural bonds in a uniquely Australian moment. Their set was not just a musical showcase but a celebration of unity, love, and the enduring power of song.
Kay Gee and Vin Rock from Naughty by Nature presented a thrilling two part '50 years of Hip-Hop Countdown' before and after the Boyz II Men set. Their set was a journey through hip-hop history, each song a nod to the genre's evolution. Their energy and mastery of the craft had everyone on their feet, a celebration of hip-hop's enduring influence.
Soon after, Flo Rida and his crew burst onto the stage with a vitality that electrified the stadium. His set was an adrenaline-fueled party, each song a hit that had the crowd jumping and singing. From "Right Round" to "Low", his energy was infectious, the stadium pulsating with every beat. His interaction with the audience, from sharing drinks to inviting fans onstage, broke down the barriers between performer and audience, creating an atmosphere of exhilarating camaraderie.
His set was a spectacle of engagement and entertainment, epitomized when he rode on his guard Big Zacc's shoulders into the crowd, a move that brought the performance to an exhilarating peak. His departure from the stage, disappearing into the audience, was a fitting end to a set that was as much a celebration as it was a concert, leaving the crowd buzzing with energy.
DJ Havana Brown took to the stage next. Her set was a rhythmic journey, keeping the energy high between acts. Her collaboration with Conrad Sewell, who was a surprise guest, on Kygo’s' Firestone' was a special moment, showcasing her talent and ability to keep the crowd engaged.
Jason Derulo’s finale was the crescendo of the night, a perfect blend of showmanship and raw talent. He emerged in a red robe like a boxer entering the ring, only his arena was the stage, and his fight was a dance battle against the mundane. Underneath, his black leather jacket and ripped jeans screamed pop icon with a flair for the dramatic. The crowd roared their approval, ready for the spectacle they knew was coming.
And what a spectacle it was! Derulo wasn’t just performing; he was orchestrating an audio-visual symphony. His voice, a finely tuned instrument, hit every note with precision and passion. He had something for every age group present. The songs, from the nostalgic "In My Head" to the TikTok-famous "Savage Love", weren't just sung; they were lived out on stage. And then there were the dancers, including the phenomenal Les Twins. Laurent and Larry Nicolas Bourgeois, known for their work with Beyoncé, in addition to the array of ladies and gents on the stage brought an electric energy that amplified every beat. Their moves were more than dance; they were poetry in motion, a visual echo of Derulo’s lyrics.
The synergy on stage was palpable, a testament to Derulo's ability to not just sing a song, but to tell a story. His set was a journey through a decade of hits, each one a chapter in the ever-evolving story of RnB and pop. As the night drew to a close, the audience was left not just entertained, but invigorated, a reminder of the power of music to transcend, transform, and transport.
As the last notes of the 2023 Fridayz Live faded into the Sydney night, it was clear that this was more than just a concert; it was a celebration of an era, a journey through the rich tapestry of RnB and hip-hop history. The Giants Stadium, transformed for one night into a haven of nostalgia, echoed with the sounds of legendary artists and the cheers of a crowd that spanned generations. From the electric opening with Travie McCoy to the exhilarating finale by Jason Derulo, each performance was a thread in the vibrant fabric of the night.
The 2023 Fridayz Live, despite its calendar defiance of not actually being on a Friday, brought that unmistakable end-of-week euphoria to a crowd ready to let loose. It was a night where Hit Network’s RNB Fridays (Australia), ZM & Flava (New Zealand), and Frontier Touring, with some help from McDonald's, turned Giants Stadium into a time machine back to the golden days of R&B. Parents got a well-deserved break from kiddie duties, office warriors shed their work personas, and everyone got a chance to bask in the glow of nostalgia and sheer joy.
As the crowd dispersed into the Sydney night, there was a shared hope, a collective wish that 2024’s Fridayz Live would bring even more of these good times, continuing the legacy of this unforgettable night.