I LOVE THE 90’S TOUR with Salt-N-Pepa & more @ Bell Centre – 16th February 2017

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Thursday’s show at the Bell Centre brought ticket holders to the best of their high school days. Upon walking through the doors, our ears were filled with classic hip-hop; the likes of MC Lyte, LL Cool J and Method Man playing overhead, pumped the crowds before they even got into their seats.

The show started on time with C+C Music Factory, getting the crowd hyped with their 1991 number one hit “Things That Make You Go Hmmm…” One of those things that made the crowd go hmmm was that Freedom Williams was the only member of the group performing. After closing their (his?) set with “Everybody Dance Now”, DJ Capone played music before the next performer: YOUNG MC.

Young MC, dubbed one of the original fastest rappers, did not disappoint. Casually walking onto the stage with a large hoodie, and introducing himself, he declared that he was hot and un-zipped his hoodie to reveal that he was wearing a Canadiens Jersey underneath. The crowd was officially in love with him from that moment. Although he started his set with a new song called “Nocturnal”, the crowd didn’t seem to mind and kept their energy high for “Bust a Move” which quickly followed and ended his set.

While DJ Capone filled his seat once again (and subsequently did between each set), Colour Me Badd was introduced and many of the ladies around me were very excited. A favorite RnB group of the early 90’s, they performed their three major hits: “All 4 Love”, “I Adore Mi Amore” and “I Wanna Sex You Up”. Unfortunately and shockingly, especially since they have been touring for a year already, their talent stayed in the 90’s. Seeing the faces of women now grimacing confirmed as much.

Montell Jordan emerging onto the stage next was a welcome relief; he still looked and sounded very much the same as he did in the 90’s. He informed the crowd that he was now a pastor and that he believed he was at the concert to remind everyone that God loved them. The crowd welcomed the blessing and enjoyed the first one of his hits “Baby I Like”. “Something’ 4 Da Honeyz” was performed next followed by “Get It On Tonight”. Montell explained that people didn’t know that he wrote many songs for other artists and showcased Sisqós’ song “Incomplete” describing it as one of the most personal songs he has ever written. He ended his set with his most famous hit “This Is How We Do It”, and it was clear to the crowd that he still has a great way of doing it.

Rob Base kept the energy high starting with “Joy and Pain”. Nostalgia filled the air in that moment and he ended his set with “It Takes Two”, preparing the crowd for the two they have been waiting for: Salt-N-Pepa.

These ladies were one of the first few who broke the glass ceiling of women in Hip Hop. As they appeared onto the smoke filled stage, they thanked the crowd for helping them stay relevant for 30 years. Salt also apologized to the ladies in crowd “for getting you in trouble for talking about sex and pushing it real good”. The crowd roared and someone yelled: “WE SHOULD THANK YOU!” oh wait, that might have been me.

Unfortunately Spinderella was unable to make it as she was being honored and receiving an award for breaking barriers herself, as they explained, but were very quick to mention how proud they were of her.

Continuing the walk down memory lane, Salt-N-Pepa started by performing their oldies “Tramp”, “I’ll Take Your Man” and “Express Yourself” from their debut album Hot, Cool, & Vicious (Fun fact: it is the first album by a female rap act to attain gold and platinum status in America). After spitting out those hits, a musical intermission, as I would like to call it, occurred; ladies filled the stage for a dance off to Cyndi Lauper’s’ “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Most ladies were simply trying to get a selfie with Salt and/or Pepa and I can’t say that I blame them. Subsequently, after they removed the ladies, it was the men’s’ turn. They too wanted selfies with the duo and as “Whatta Man” played, they got exactly that.

It truly then turned into a real high school dance from the 90’s: Salt-N-Pepa banged their heads to Nirvana, played air guitar to “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses while passing their mic in the crowd and then were accompanied by dancers for a Michael Jackson medley. For the critics; while it’s true that Sweet Child of Mine was released in the 80’s, anyone who attended high school in the 90’s will confirm that they “slow danced” to that tune.

They ended the show with “Shoop” and finally “Push It”, donning the original jackets from the video to much of the crowds delight. With the shot of flutter fetti, we all knew that our walk down memory lane was soon coming to a bittersweet end. What will be continuing after the house lights come on though is their friendship. As Salt put it: “We are here to celebrate the 90’s, good music and friendship. Good friends are hard to come by and if you have them you need to hold on tightly to them. But in every friendship there’s a challenge, there’s a ying and there’s a yang, there’s a Salt and dear Lord, there’s a Pepa. Let me tell you about me and this woman: we have been through hell together. She is my BFF forever.”

Review – Leora Shammas

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