FLO at Outernet review: this knockout gig felt like an intimate stop on their road to superstardom.
By Lisa Wright, Evening Standard, 31.03.23
Entering into their first proper headline show after a BRIT Award win, a MOBO nomination and topping the BBC Sound of 2023 poll, yet with barely more than half a dozen released songs to their name, it’s worth banishing the elephant from the room straight away: FLO are even better than the hype.
They are a vocally flawless trio whose comparisons to Destiny’s Child are truly legitimate in a way that regularly left last night’s central London crowd hollering at the sheer jaw-dropping dexterity of it all.
There was no obvious Beyoncé in the group, composed of early twentysomethings Jorja Douglas, Stella Quaresma and Renée Downer – but nor was there a clear Kelly or Michelle. Instead, the three were a unit that thrived off their chemistry and shared solos equally.
Their camaraderie was one that harked back to classic girl groups past, with moments of endearingly-rehearsed stage ‘banter’ as Spice Girls-esque as the turn-of-the-century influences that populated their ridiculously earwormy songs.
If the screens that greeted the audiece upon arrival at upscale new Tottenham Court Road venue Outernet – showing Powerpuff Girls-style avatars of the band – weren’t enough to highlight the night as An Event, then the sea of phones that rose as FLO stepped out to the undeniable pop grind of Not My Job will have done the trick. However, clad in matching red Noughties cut-out outfits, it’s when they delivered an immaculate a capella during second track Immature that their real hustle made itself known.
There were moments throughout the set when FLO’s live vocals could have rivalled any pop superstars on the circuit. Veering from the powerhouse sass of Christina Aguilera circa Stripped on excellent new track Control Freak, via a perfectly timed cover of Jamelia’s Superstar, to the pure Beyoncé balladry of Losing You, the trio were a masterful composite of nostalgia and talent that was clearly incredibly current. “This is a moment,” a fan exhaled, overwhelmed, behind us.
That FLO decided to eschew costume changes and big pop star tropes was probably a good choice; with a backing band that already lifted the scale in ways that could fill arenas, they’ve got to have something left to build towards.
However, to make a 2,000 capacity debut headline feel like an intimate stop off on the way to inevitable superstardom was a rare feat. By the time the trio introduced recent Missy Elliot collaboration Fly Girl and a closing, elongated trip through their all-conquering debut single Cardboard Box, their trajectory felt like a done deal. People may well be talking about this in the same giddy fashion as having seen any of pop’s true greats at their start of their journey.