A natural entertainer, but an ambivalent crowd...

With an impressive four Grammy Awards under his belt and a singer/songwriting/producing CV that would make most artists whimper with envy, it’s shocking that The-Dream’s one-off London show is held at such a relatively modest venue.

As an undisputed king of the slow jam, it’s no surprise that the artist otherwise known as Terius Nash – writer for and collaborator with the likes of Beyoncé, Kanye West and Frank Ocean – warms his crowd up with suitable fare. A DJ spins a clutch of certifiable make-out songs, including cuts by R. Kelly and Ginuwine.

Arriving 30 minutes late – let’s be honest, hardly a crime compared to other slow-shows of the pop world – Nash rocks onto the stage clad in a sateen ‘IV Play’ jacket. The title, of course, is that of his latest album (actually his fifth), released back in May.

Nash might not be either the best singer in his field – that being deliciously syrupy sexual R&B – nor the best dancer, but his stage presence is honed to a rare quality. The man is charisma incarnate – during his songs, at least. Between numbers, he engages in some less-endearing banter, at one point telling an audience member that he’d “f*ck the shit” out of her and her “big-ass titties”.

‘I Luv Your Girl’, from the debut The-Dream LP of 2007, ‘Love Hate’, receives a strong response, but the same can’t be said for more recent material. ‘IV Play’’s title-cut only instigates the slightest shuffle from those in attendance, though the man behind the song seems entirely lost in the moment.

Appearing vocoder-less, ‘Too Early’ brings the crowd’s attention level back to life, and Nash closes with what’s perhaps his best-known track, ‘Rockin’ That Shit’, from 2009’s ‘Love vs Money’ set. This sees the energy inside KOKO peak, excitement spreading throughout the audience – an excitement that wasn’t always palpable before The-Dream’s grandstand climax.

Although he doesn’t consistently connect with his crowd, on tonight’s showing at least, there’s no doubting that Nash is in his element on stage, a real natural entertainer unlike many a might-be peer. Should he be back in the UK before long, let’s hope for a longer set, and perhaps attire properly befitting an R&B impresario. Something in the faux-fur line, perhaps…

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Words: Amanda Arber

Photos: Sarah Doone

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