Sheila E!!! When I learned that she would be stopping in Belgium as part of her European tour and playing at the Muziekodroom in Hasselt, just a short train ride from Brussels, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to see the drummer, percussionist and 80’s pop icon perform for the first time. I snapped up tickets quicker than you could say “Glamorous Life”. Having honed her performance skills for decades, and with credentials including collaborations with the likes of Prince, Lionel Ritchie and Marvin Gaye, I couldn’t wait to see the musician in action. And what a treat is was.
Sheila E didn’t fail to impress with a high-energy show that showcased her musical versatility, with numbers ranging in style from Latin to funk to pop and jazz. She showed off her masterful percussion skills on the timbales and the drum kit, but also surprised us by strutting her stuff on the guitar and bass. Most enjoyable of all were her performances of her Prince-penned eighties hits: A Love Bizarre, Erotic City, The Bell of St Mark, and to close out the evening, the song we had all been waiting for: The Glamorous Life.
To top off this amazing performance, Sheila E then took to the merchandise stand to meet with fans and sign autographs. Donning oversize designer sunglasses, Sheila E was cool and gracious as she signed my copy of her autobiography ‘The Beat Of My Own Drum”. Thank you Sheila for a great show and the personal memento – definitely a night to remember.
When I contacted the Muziekodroom for permission to take photographs during the concert, I tried not to get my hopes up about getting special access. So when I heard back from Sheila E’s PR rep granting me a photo pass for the event, I could barely contain my excitement! The excitement gave way to nerves as we arrived at the small, dark venue in the middle of an industrial estate just outside of the centre of Hasselt.
When the doors flung open, I made a beeline for the front of the stage and positioned myself in the front row, stage right. With a capacity of just 900, the venue was much smaller than I expected – I found myself just a few feet away from Sheila E’s timbales!
With a performer as great as Sheila E, there’s no need for a warm-up act – she set that stage on fire! Probably best known as a percussionist, it was great to see her strap on a bass guitar for a few tunes. She even performed the rap number ‘Holly Rock’ from her 1980’s hip-hop film ‘Krush Groove’, which features Sheila sharing the screen with the likes of Run DMC and New Edition. More than 30 years later and the track is just as catchy. She closed the set with one of the best drum solos I have ever seen, the energy she poured into that solo was amazing. I was even more impressed when she told us she’s turning 58 next month – she’s been performing since before I was born and is still rocking!
I left Muziekodroom with a sore ear, a big smile on my face and Sheila E’s maxi taxi – sorry Sheila! The driver assured us he would come back for you and the band after he dropped us off at our hotel…
Bootstraat 9, 3500 Hasselt