BRISTOL’S Pride Festival’s “milkshake” is starting to draw the big names to town, if this year’s headliner was anything to go by.
Getting American singer Kelis on board was a huge coup for the organisers, and by far the biggest associated with the event.
Even if her performance didn’t quite live up to expectations, her appearance is a sign that this celebration of all things lesbian, gay and transgender is another very welcome event on Bristol’s cultural calendar.
The thousands of people who turned out on Saturday clearly agreed, and enjoyed glorious sunshine in the early afternoon despite threats of rain all day.
There were certainly good spirits in the air, because unlike many festivals the crowd didn’t seem to fussed that, in true diva fashion Kelis came on stage nearly half an hour late.
With a sparkly blue hairpiece, and a skin-tight blue bodysuit she certainly looked like she’d come to have fun.
In her 10 year career Kelis has always danced to her own tune, with far less in common with the female R&B singers she gets lumped in with.
Bizarrely she is more like Beck or Bowie in that she changes like a musical chameleon between albums, adopting a new look and sound each time.
Her most recent album “Flesh Tone” is a dance record, and the hi-NRG, hands-in-the-air style certainly suited the occasion.
Her all-too-short set was essentially a seamless mix, more like going clubbing than seeing a gig.
While there was nothing wrong with that, it was hard to escape the feeling she would be a more interesting proposition with a full band behind her.
It also meant we didn’t get her first big hit, the wonderfully venomous “Caught Out There”, because it would stand out like a sore thumb.
Instead the set was all about the party, from the opening “Scream” to a climactic and brilliant “Acapella”.
“Milkshake” was delivered earlier than expected, in a musical mash up that took in elements of Madonna’s “Holiday” and Nirvana’s “Smells like Teen Spirit”.
The latter teased the diverse taste that defines her but there was sadly little evidence of this elsewhere.
It was all over in 40 minutes and with no encore, it was good but could have been better.