Chris Schulz is the deputy head of entertainment for the New Zealand Herald.

Concert review: Jeremih, Powerstation

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Jeremih has the songs, he just needs to work on his showmanship.
Jeremih has the songs, he just needs to work on his showmanship.

On record, Jeremih's smooth, sexed-up take on R&B sits somewhere between R Kelly, Banks and The Dream, his voice mixing with electronic bass tricks that feel so current it hurts.

But live, a different source of inspiration appears for the rising Chicago R&B champ: the '90s.

Backed by an eye-catching, booty-shaking dance troupe and a band featuring a DJ, drummer and keyboardist, Jeremih's Powerstation performance last night felt like a trip back to a time when Warren G and Montell Jordan ruled the R&B/hip-hop crossover charts.

Yes, the 28-year-old's second New Zealand appearance comes after last year's excellent Late Nights, his third and best album that's so full of sultry R&B jams the Powerstation was rammed with fans screaming every word back at him.

Highlights included Don't Tell Em, a dance-pop song Justin Bieber would be proud to have in his catalogue, Pass Dat, which had the entire band performing co-ordinated dance moves across the stage, Planez, his downtempo ode to joining the mile-high club, and Impatient, his falsetto soaring over the track's finger clicks.

But despite his entourage seeming determined to party at every moment, Jeremy Felton mostly remained an understated performer, staying very much within himself while singing with a baseball cap pulled so low you could barely see his eyes.

He let the crowd sing many of his hooks and disappeared from the stage several times to leave his band to act as hype men. The last time he disappeared, punters seemed confused as to whether or not the gig was actually over.

Perhaps he's just shy, a performer more at home in the studio than on the stage. Either way, Jeremih has the songs and the '90s party vibe down - he just needs to find the stage presence to match them.

Who: Jeremih
Where: Powerstation, Auckland
When: Thursday, February 25

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