Pharrell s Perth gig a big miss
Pharrell Williams at Challenge Stadium. Picture: Sharon Smith/ The West Australian

CONCERT
Pharrell Williams
Challenge Stadium
REVIEW ROSS McRAE
1.5 stars

Fans of Pharrell Williams jumped for joy last month when it was announced he was to play a stand-alone concert at Challenge Stadium after not being able to take part on the *Perth * leg of Future Music Festival because of a scheduling clash (he was performing at the Oscars).

On Friday night, about 3000 devotees of the producer, musician, rapper and fashion designer packed into the sub-par concert venue in Mt Claremont amped to have the "coolest man in music" headline one of only two solo shows in Australia, and just the second since the release of his chart-topping new album Girl.

So it was an extreme disappointment when the man himself couldn't live up to the expectations surrounding his performance, nor fulfil what fans had paid almost $80 for - an actual concert.

Williams' instead delivered a 37-odd minute set of mashed-up hits and covers and roughly four full- length songs, including his smash hit single Happy twice (apparently topping the ARIA singles chart for 10 weeks justifies this).

At first all signs pointed to an epic experience.

Backed by a DJ and two dancers, he arrived decked out in his now trademark Vivienne Westwood hat to a riotous reception from the diverse audience and kept the energy building by heading straight into Swedish House Mafia's One.

Females left, right and centre went wild as he stripped off his T-shirt and proceeded to go into a mash-up of Snoop Dogg's Drop It Like It's Hot, N.E.R.D.'s She Wants to Move and Gwen Stefani's Hollaback Girl, where at this point it was clear he was singing sporadically over a backing track.

Williams loves to get up close and personal with his audience, firstly inviting a troupe of female fans to grind against him on stage during a cover of Nelly's Hot in Herre before jumping into the general admission crowd who went ballistic as he strutted through to the sounds of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines, before singing Happy, for the first time, from the back of the venue.

About 30 minutes into the performance Williams asked his DJ whether he had gone over the time yet. It was bizarre as it was only 9.35pm and while we were in the suburbs, it clearly wasn't over the venue's curfew.

When he left the stage abruptly at 9.40pm after his second performance of Happy, and without including his collaboration with Daft Punk, Get Lucky, or pretty much any of his back catalogue, fans were expecting an encore, only to be disappointed when the house lights went up.

A confused diehard fan was overheard asking one of Williams' staffers whether he was coming back, only to be told he had to be at the airport at 11pm.

Strange then that an artist would agree to a solo concert where they are to come on stage at 9pm in Mt Claremont only to be at the airport just two hours later.

But then it wasn't a concert, it was an appearance of a celebrity who is currently riding his second wave of excessive hype and adulation.

Fans spent more time navigating the nightmare that is the Challenge Stadium carpark than Williams was on stage and some were probably still waiting to hit Stephenson Avenue while the 40-year-old was already nestled into his first-class seat.

The West Australian

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