What effect does the admiration of 5,000 women have on the male ego? For a case study, look no further than Trey Songz at the Hammersmith Apollo, playing the first of three sold-out shows.
Screams greeted the American R&B star’s every move, rising to deafening crescendos at various crucial stages of his seduction routine, as when he sang invitingly, “Who wants to come back to my hotel?” or removed his vest to reveal an awesomely sculpted chest – at which point the screaming went berserk.
It has taken Songz (real name Tremaine Neverson) a while to become the catalyst of such impressive hormonal ferment. The Virginian originally wanted to be a rapper, but switched to R&B out of admiration for R Kelly. Eight years after the release of his first album I Gotta Make It, he has indeed made it: last year’s Chapter V topped the US album charts.
He wasted no time getting down to business at the Apollo, asking any “single ladies” to put their hands up (a forest of arms shot up) and posing the easily answered question, “Who wants me?”
The imagery was modern – women were “shorties”, wooing took place in the “club” or the “crib” – but musically the songs were old-fashioned. Synthesisers and electronic beats were kept to a minimum; instead a trio of brass players gestured back to older traditions of R&B.
Songz moved neatly between different romantic personae, from the cocky chauvinist of “Already Taken”, bragging how his “girl” lets him go to the “strip club”, to the more progressive hero of a later song who promises to do the cooking. He was a versatile vocalist, softly crooning ballads, getting throatier on the raunchy numbers, unleashing the odd falsetto to show how attuned he was to femininity.
The simmering air of lasciviousness reached comical proportions on the crass club banger “Bottoms Up”. By then there was no stopping Songz. He ended by disappearing into the stage on a hydraulic platform, shirt off, arms aloft in a victory salute.
The admiration of 5,000 women has an enjoyably predictable effect on the male ego.