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Concert Reviews:
Nelly Furtado Pops Up At Detroit Opera House

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Tuesday, June 12, 2007

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DETROIT -- When Nelly Furtado played her first U.S. concert in 2000 -- at Pontiac's Clutch Cargo's -- she was a much-buzzed about singer with a hot single ("I'm Like a Bird"), an equally hot debut album ("Whoa, Nelly!") and an earthy disposition that was a welcome antidote to the Britney/Christina spectacles dominating pop music at that time.

But seven years does make a difference.

The Furtado that played the Detroit Opera House on Monday night (June 11th) has morphed into a pop diva in her own right, with a large-scale production -- particularly impressive in the intimate Opera House -- that featured four dancers, four costume changes, a three-tiered stage and a massive disco ball hanging above. It was to be expected, of course; the Canadian singer and songwriter's latest album, 2006's "Loose," has made a five-million copy worldwide footprint, from the club circuit with Timbaland-produced hits such as "Promiscuous" and "Maneater" to the adult-contemporary world of "All Good Things (Come to an End)." That kind of success, and the audience it attracts, requires a live presentation that looks like it exploded right off of MTV.

Fortunately, the 29-year-old Furtado hasn't completely sold herself out to the whole supersized trip. On Monday she was as modest a diva as you'll see working a big pop show stage, looking vaguely uncomfortable with the whole song-and-dance spectacle and never doing anything that would compromise her ability to sing. The result was a concert with enough eye candy to please the transients but enough detail to her three-album repertoire to maintain the music's prominence in her world.

Wearing outfit No. 1, a tight mini-dress, Furtado emerged from behind the mirror ball singing "Say it Right," then moved downstage and onto a ramp jutting in the front rows for "Turn Off the Light" and "Powerless (Say What You Want)" -- deftly covering all three albums in the show's opening sequence. Besides all the aforementioned hits, Furtado and her six-member band threw a few curve balls into the evening, including a version of "Give it to Me" from Timbaland's "Shock Value" album, an unplugged rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" and an ensemble treatment of Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack." The rocked-up "remix" version of "I'm Like a Bird" held less sway, however, especially since it wound up meandering back to the song's original melodic countenance.

The most effective musical moment, however, was a moody turn on "All Good Things (Come to an End)" with Furtado -- in outfit No. 2, a gown -- playing guitar. It was a reminder that despite all the pop star trappings, Furtado is still at her core a modern-day troubadour whose songs are more important than the dancing that accompanies them.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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