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Live Review: Emotional Oranges @ XOYO, London 06/06/19


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Emotional Oranges brought their infectious acid-funk R&B to London on their first ever tour, at a sold-out XOYO show.

Image courtesy of Emotional Oranges

There is a strange sense of trepidation in the air prior to LA-based R&B duo Emotional Oranges heading out onto the stage for an intimate gig at the Shoreditch nightclub for two main reasons: first, this is the duo’s first ever tour, and to see them go international this early with only eight songs to their name was a huge shock, and second, the duo have kept their identity incredibly anonymous, not releasing photos, keeping themselves private, and going by the stage names ‘V’, female singer, and ‘A’, male singer. To say that there is a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation is an understatement.

This sense of anxiety isn’t helped by the duo coming out 80 minutes after doors opened, with there being no opening act and no hype-man with a DJ set to keep people interested; just some vibey music played at a medium volume with a couple of hundred people seeming disengaged, sweating around, awkwardly jostling for space in anticipation for the main act. The delay is so excruciating that the odd boo can be heard amongst the North London crowd.

This all changes when the duo finally comes out to perform. To protect their sacred anonymity, the room is completely smoked out, with strong backlights used to just make it that tiny bit harder to make out faces. With only eight singles in their discography, there are no surprises in the setlist, and the expectant crowd went word for word on every song, with some fans jumping around wildly at a vibey R&B gig, which was curious, and most in attendance even joining in on the harmonies. The duo does play an unreleased single, ‘Don’t Be Lazy’, which sounds great: warm, bouncy bassline, strong vocals from V - all that good stuff we have come to adore and expect from Emotional Oranges. They also pay homage to Ashanti and Ja Rule with a rendition of their classic hit ‘Always on Time’.

V is outstanding. Her voice control is impeccable and she sounds just as good live as on the studio versions, her improvised melodies are gorgeous in person but most importantly, her stage presence is otherworldly. Keeping fans engaged and energised throughout the set, bouncing from edge to edge of the stage like a sexy Beyblade, switching up accessories in her outfit for some added spice and getting really into it with the electric guitarist on stage, who, might I also add, kills it all night. It is such a shame that A can't quite match that energy. It seems like his mic was low in volume from the get-go, which could have affected his enthusiasm throughout the set because he looks way too laid back, but not in a cool way, more in a ‘trying too hard to be cool’ way. 

The duo gets through seven songs off their latest EP The Juice, Vol. I and then leave the stage without performing their biggest song so far: ‘Personal’. This is most definitely an ego-fuelling move to get the crowd angry, get them chanting ‘Personal’ and ‘EO’, feeding some of that narcissism that artists tend to have… and it works. The crowd goes into a frenzy as soon as the guitarist comes out and plays the first few notes of the song’s bassline, followed by V and A coming back out, having switched mics so that A can actually be heard, which is great for A but disappointing for V, who at the end of the song goes crazy on some improvised harmonies which would have sounded unbelievable, had the audience been able to properly hear it.

For a group’s first ever tour, this is probably what was to be expected: some technical issues and a completely botched pre-show, but a talent level, and quality of music and performance, that shows why Emotional Oranges are a duo we love, and why they're definitely one to keep an eye out for.

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