Nottingham’s answer to Madonna, and a shiny popstress to rival the city’s sultry siren, Indiana.
Date: July 11, 2014
Venue: Bodega, Nottingham
Leaping on stage like she’s just returned from Hawaii – shades on (of course), retina-damaging multi-coloured summer crop top, fancy pants – Nottingham’s queen of retro-pop storms straight into Wiyoo, its pulsing, bass-heavy disco groove bouncing around the delighted crowd who have paid nothing for the privilege. Nada. Nowt. It’s a free gig. A thank you from Ronika to the city that has propelled her to the brink of stardom.
Fleshed out with a guitarist, a bass guitarist and a percussionist, Only Only, sounds like Bananarama on a diet of Ritalin, Vodka and Sunny D, as she delivers a polished, glossy synth-led, slick masterstroke which has the 80s asking for its hit back.
That 80s vibe is omnipresent, but there are fine nuances amidst this sheen of shiny retro-pop.
Shell Shocked, for example, could be Kylie’s new post-modern statement of intent; a dance floor filler, a disco classic for 2014 that posits Ronika as inventive and pioneering, marrying retro stylings with salacious modern dance music.
Meanwhile Believe It’s playful bass and zeitgeist-bothering sassiness is sensual, sexy and awe-inspiring. Its warm, relaxed feel melts in your ears.
By now, Ronika has the crowd in her hands, they’re like putty; malleable and submissive to her every whim.
She can even get away with choruses as simplistic as “Na na, na-na, na na na naa” (the superb Rough ‘n’ Soothe) as her band (and laptop) swell with vigour, bulge with vim and envelop the audience in spacious pop rhythms and shiny disco grooves.
Shades on then shades off, her 80s Madonna-esque hair teasing her cheekbones as at tumbles from her head, she’s the epitome of cool. As is special guest and jazz artist Charles Washington, who ambles on stage to warm applause, looking like Samuel L. Jackson, oozing cool and ready to replicate his contribution to Clock. But unfortunately, his vocals are too low in the mix, leaving Ronika to take full control. A shame, but it matters not. This is already a crushing victory.
“This one is dedicated to Notts”, enthuses our heroine in the encore, as she delivers In The City, a propulsive Daft Punk-like filmic sweep of chic, while set closer 1000 Nights is pure early Madonna; a derrière-shaking sex-bomb doused in glitterball glamour.
Ronika is a fast-rising star of the ever-evolving Nottingham music scene; a queen of quixotic reminiscence; a princess of polished pop, a diva of disco. But most of all she’s an absolute joy to behold.