Summer Walker is the “queen of R&B,” declared producer London On Da Track at her sold-out show at The Novo in downtown Los Angeles. He, along with special guests Usher and Jhene Aiko, represented the proven hitmakers who bowed down, as it were, to Walker on Friday night.
On a stage that consisted of two stripper poles, a rotating disco ball, and a live band, Walker’s The First And Last Tour finally found its way to the city of Angels more than a year after the Atlanta native exploded onto the scene with her debut single “CPR.”
But it was “Girls Need Love” that took the world by storm as Walker, a former exotic dancer-turned-singer who holds little back when it comes to her thoughts and emotions, spit into the microphone: “I just need some d–k / I just need some love / Tired of fucking with these lame n–s baby / I just need a thug.” Aside from the realness in her lyrics, it’s her blunt yet subtle get-straight-to-the-point message that connects with fans. Summer Walker says what females are thinking deep down inside, unapologetically.
Indeed, “Girls Need Love” was so good even Drake had to hop on the remix. That track closes out her debut album “Over It,” which dropped in October landing at No. 3 on the Rolling Stone album chart. With standout singles (“Playing Games” and “Stretch You Out”) paving the way, the LVRN/Interscope signee seemingly catapulted her way to the top.
Opening for Walker was Jozzy, the songwriter behind Billy Ray Cyrus’ verse on Lil Nas X’ “Old Town Road” in one of her first performances ever in L.A. The Memphis native performed her own singles “Sucka Free” and brought out Danileigh for “Easy.”
Next was Interscope labelmate Melii, who brought her unmatched Spanish and East Coast energy strutting across the stage in leopard-print leggings and a tight bikini top. The bilingual artist performed “HML” and “TM Interlude,” or rapping her ass off in Spanish.
Walker was the grand finale, opening her set with “Over It,” the title track to her last album which was executive produced by London On Da Track.
Walker’s Friday night outfit consisted of a sleek, all-black look with a bandeau top and an elegant lace cover up that stemmed from her booty shorts. Her voluminous afro was parted to the side reminiscent of the 70s, which played nicely with the theme of a large rotating disco ball.
“Body” came next, and as she crooned the words: “my mind, my mind, and my body is….” you realize that the crowd knew her lyrics verbatim.
Only getting on the stripper pole for a few seconds of the show, Walker busted out her own phone on stage, on which she began “Drunk Dialing…LODT.” We’ve all been there.
Slowing things down, Walker performed “CPR” while seated on the floor, which ended with a phenomenal solo run by the drummer. Day one fans were hyped.
“Come on L.A., I know your ass is bougie,” Walker jabbed, then asked “Anyone like wine?” Proceeding to bust out her own glass of white, “Wasted” followed, before she handed the bottle to the crowd. “Anybody want this?”
“Riot” was another highlight from the set, as she took a seat and serenaded the crowd. They didn’t just sing along, they held her exact melody and harmony. Next, she states, “We’re going to get in our feelings.” In this moment, she busted out her guitar and did “Session 32,” reminding us how talented she really is. (She plays piano too).
Aiko’s appearance onstage had the hometown crowd shrieking. The two performed “I’ll Kill You,” and Walker commented: “The funny thing is you don’t know how long I’ve been listening to her music, so this is just crazy.”
Shortly after fans recovered from a monumental “Girls Need Love,” out came Usher during “Come Thru.” Out of all the standout records on the project, it’s a fan favorite by majority vote. Both artists being from Atlanta, Walked bringing out Usher was a full-circle moment in itself.
Music aside, it’s Walker’s moments of vulnerability that really shined, giving hope to the masses. “Anyone in here have social anxiety? That shit is real, but don’t let it stop the bag. Don’t let it stop anything you need to do.”
Walker also made a point of shouting out her dancers, who both hopped on the pole for the “ratchet” part of the show, as they held onto each other, balanced on each other, and gave fans a true Cirque du Soleil moment.
“Playing Games” capped off the show. As Walker’s boo London popped out to hold her in his arms, she declared: “Goddamn, my man is fine!” London proceeded to shout out Young Thug, just one of the many celebrity guests in the house.
As the venue cleared out, the merch table proved to be the hot spot. No doubt fans were looking for the “Support Your Local Strip Club” black hoodie that has already sold out online.