Ja Rule/Ashanti/Romeo : London Wembley Arena

It's Murder Inc on the dancefloor...

Ja Rule/Ashanti/Romeo : London Wembley Arena

Oh dear. Romeo looks a little out of place as he finishes 'Romeo Dunn' and runs offstage. No wonder - everyone else on tonight's bill is a Murder Inc artist, and this whole bash must feel like going round MI head honcho Irv Gotti's house for tea. Even without big hitters like J.Lo, this is Murder Inc's party and the Brit contingent look left out.





Still, R&B sensation Ashanti is a revelation, taking an accomplished but often uneventful debut album and conjuring it into a live experience that's funny, elegant and funky. A male audience member is sought to join her onstage, and when Marlon ("representing Luton") is chosen for an Ashanti lapdance all hell breaks loose. 'Unfoolish' closes her set perfectly.





Ja Rule may lack the onstage charisma of his protegée but he and Irv make a diverting double act (at one point, apropos of nothing, Irv soaks Ja in water). Fellow Murder Inc star Charli Baltimore helps pep things up along the way too.





Ultimately, the Murder Inc crew's live potency is validated by the fact that while Ashanti and Ja Rule have enjoyed their biggest hits as guest vocalists - 'Rainy Dayz' and 'What's Luv?' come and go tonight - no-one misses Mary J Blige or Fat Joe. As So Solid spin off wildly in their different directions, maybe Romeo should be taking notes on perfecting the art of the extended pop family.





Peter Robinson

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