As I pulled into the parking lot of the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia, I was not quite sure of what to expect of the evening’s performance by Nelly Furtado. Sure, I had been a big fan of Nelly’s first two albums, Whoa, Nelly! and Folklore, but it had taken a long while for me to take a shine to the sound of Loose.
While her music has always been an amalgam of various styles, with influences ranging from Portuguese folk to American hip-hop, it left me a little shaken to hear the artist I grew to love for her unique sound singing with Timbaland about promiscuous boys. It took the next two singles “Maneater” and “Say It Right”, the latter in particular, to get me back on the bandwagon. I finally gave Loose a listen with an open ear and found it to be one of the better pop albums of the past year. Nelly’s eclectic style was still intact, it just had a slicker sheen to it.
One of the first things I noticed upon taking my seat was that the crowd was one of the more diverse I have ever encountered at a concert. However, I’m more used to going out to rock shows at small clubs filled with a bunch of wannabe hipsters than I am pop concerts at small arenas. There was an impressive mix of middle-aged couples, teenage girls with disinterested looking boyfriends, moms with their daughters, and people of every race and nationality you could think of. If you want to see the melting pot that America is, get yourself out to a Nelly Furtado concert sometime. As mixed as the crowd might have been, there was clearly one unifying theme. Judging by the crowd noise alone, it was obvious that everyone in the stands at the Patriot Center was very excited to see Nelly perform.
If the crowd was looking to see a pop spectacle, they certainly came to the right place. The show opened with an enormous disco ball ascending from the rafters as a group of dancers took the stage while Furtado’s backing band broke into the opening music of “Afraid”, the first track off of Loose. Nelly started the show off properly, getting the crowd on their feet for an opening trio of “Say It Right”, “Turn Off The Light”, and “Powerless”. It was a great mix of tracks from all three of her albums, and left me happy to know that songs from commercially disappointing Folklore were not going to be ignored on this night. While the set list was dominated by tracks off of Loose, there was a nice balance of songs from Whoa, Nelly! and Folklore as well, with each album being represented by three to four songs throughout the evening.