Promising a colossal line-up and a far bigger venue this year, the much-anticipated ZM Friday Jams LIVE may have fallen on a ‘school night’ but this didn’t stop the hoards (over 25,000 people!) from descending on Western Springs Stadium when doors opened at 3pm, albeit people were only allowed into the stadium grounds closer to 4pm after sound checks were completed.
With the likes of homegrown talent Kings and Che Fu warming up the sun-soaked crowds before Estelle, Ginuwine, Next and Taio Cruz took to the stage, the dark clouds may have loomed ominously but they certainly knew better than to rain on this RnB parade.
Standout performances of the evening were, easily, the sassy Eve as she performed smash hits from her small but mighty repertoire. From Gangsta Lovin’ to Rich Girl, this may have been Eve’s first time in the country but she had everyone shaking their tail feathers to Tambourine and seemed to love every minute of it.
Fatman Scoop came through and made the crowd Jump but a slight slump seem to wash over the audience during Naughty By Nature’s performance, it was hard to say whether the likes of DMX’s Y’all Gonna Make Me Lose My Mind wasn’t enough to keep spirits high or that the long alcohol-fuelled day was simply starting to show its effects.
Suitably changing up the mood were none other than the original gangsters - the all-female RnB trio Salt-N-Pepa and DJ Spinerella. After thanking the audience profusely for their 32 years of support, the ladies blew the audience away with everything from what seemed to be a Magic Mike inspired performance before sending the crowd into a fit of screams with Giddy Up, Let’s Talk About Sex, What A Man and of course, the eagerly awaited Push It.
Soon it was time for the evening’s headliner - Usher and Lil Jon. It’s fair to say that the sweet sounds and swish moves of Usher did not disappoint, not even for a second, but it was Lil Jon who stole the show.
Despite Usher’s Black Panther-esque set and costumes, tight dance routines and killer footage on the big screen, the likes of Love In The Club, Make Me Wanna, Bad Girl and Remind Me were no match for Lil Jon’s Get Low, Shot Shot Shot or Turn Down For What.
In my humble opinion, Usher played the sexy card just a little too much and seemed to have dialled back the hype that had built throughout the day. In some ways, had this been an Usher concert, I’d be inclined to say there would be no complaints but perhaps the crowd’s reaction was a good sign of what the Friday Jams audience had turned up for - the bangers.
So while the reputed event was executed in a grander fashion this year — big ups for the varied food options and Scream Machine amusement park ride — perhaps a jam packed 3 hour show with the best in the biz would’ve hit it out of the park a little more effectively; bigger isn’t always better.
More images in the photo gallery below!