LOOKING around the Hydro to see a packed-out audience comprising almost exclusively under-30s, it was strange to think that the Jamaican singer, rapper and producer Sean Paul will next year celebrate 20 years since his first record. Yet the videos for his tracks which appeared behind him testified to his growth in the public eye, the clean-cut young guy in some at odds with the rugged and energetic middle-aged man before us.
Sean Paul, Hydro, Glasgow ***
Over the years his work has retained a unique style which has its roots in Jamaican dancehall and spread out to encompass rap and elements of rock and dance, but now – as then – his central influence is pure pop.
Paul bounced onstage with his MC and two supporting female dancers, while the riser on which his five-piece band sat bore the Saltire-like cross of a Jamaican flag. On Get Busy he implored the “sexy ladies” to party with him, and there was much similar, somewhat dated bro appeal throughout, including some expensively-shot video clips featuring Paul drinking cognac and watching women dance. Still, the large number of women in the audience appeared happy to cheer and join in every time he called out to them with a note of swagger.
More entertaining was the breadth of sounds and styles he introduced through a wealth of hits originally performed with collaborators, alongside tracks in his own style such as Like Glue, Tek Weh Yuh Heart and She Doesn’t Mind. There was the smooth R&B of Baby Boy, with Beyonce appearing as an onscreen recording; the Latino funk of Enrique Iglesias’ Bailando; the sleek pop of Clean Bandit’s Rockabye and Sia’s Cheap Thrills; and other tracks with Cuban and Trinidadian influences.
“You didn’t know you were buying a plane ticket tonight,” laughed Paul, the breadth of his influences revealed, and it was this winning sense of internationalism which enriched what was a fun set of jukebox hits.