R&B singer and former Atlanta resident Bobby Brown had to stop his set for a moment to get a towel. A few songs into his time on stage he was sweating up a storm. “It’s hot up here,” he said. Brown was wearing a blue leather shirt and matching pants.
“Maybe it’s the leather. I don’t know.”
Brown and Atlanta’s own Xscape headlined the R&B Experience Atlanta Holiday Edition show and if you are around my age (45), the lineup of this year’s concert should have grabbed your attention and immediately thrust you back in time to the late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. I don’t know about you but those were good times.
So was the near four-hour concert featuring another popular Atlanta-based act, 112, and fellow popular men’s groups Dru Hill, Silk and Shai.
On a Sunday night State Farm Arena was host to some of the most well-known groups from the above decades and at times the show felt more like a family reunion than a bunch of strangers listening to music together. Though Xscape closed the show, Brown stole it as the second to last performer to take the stage. His nearly 25-minute set was packed with some of his most famous songs.
Brought out onto the stage by Atlanta-native and actor Chris Tucker, one of many guest appearances during the show, Brown’s set had the biggest backup band, the best graphics playing on a large screen behind him, and the best reaction from the crowd. Ever the showman, even nearly 40 years after his solo debut self-titled album, Bobby Brown (1986), he has loved the spotlight and it showed Sunday night. Classics like “Don’t Be Cruel,” “Roni” and “Rock With You” got people out of their seats.
Making his way back and forth across the stage, taking time to dance between breaks in songs and bridges, Brown looked like he was having fun out there. “Atlanta, I’m home,” he said. Brown is famously from Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, but he has lived off and on in Atlanta for a long time. He closed his performance with “My Prerogative,” easily his most famous song. Brown left the stage with the crowd in his hands.
Even missing LaTocha Scott, the group’s strongest songstress, Xscape put on a great show and did so Sunday night. Songs like “Feels So Good,” “Just Kickin’ It,” “Who Can I Run To,” and “My Little Secret”. Though the latter two songs are always better when Scott is leading the way.
Keeping it all the way Atlanta, Xscape brought Yung Joc (“It’s Going Down,” and “I Know You See It”) on stage, along with Jagged Edge (“Let’s Get Married”), Omeretta the Great (“Sorry Not Sorry”) and towards the end of their set, T.I., the husband of Xscape member Tameka Harris.
The group’s performance of “Do Want To” and “Understanding” was wonderful and more than made up for Scott’s absence.
The show opened with Shai, who’s classic ballad, “If I Ever Fall In Love” still has the power to make an arena full of people sing along. Dru Hill and El DeBarge were up next and both were entertaining in their own right, but it was Atlanta natives Silk that won the award for best overall performance.
From “Lose Control” to “Freak Me” to “Meeting In My Bedroom,” Silk dominated every minute they were on stage like no one would the entirety of the concert. The quartet should teach a master class on how to headline a tour stop without actually being the headliners.
112 would have a turn at grabbing the best performance credit, and though they would fall short, (You really had to see how well Silk performed. It was a master class on stage presence.) they represented Atlanta well. “Cupid,” “Peaches and Cream” and “Dance With Me”will always be jams and they were sure to keep both in the rotation. 112 brought Jazze Pha and Young Dro out and both were pleasant surprises. Dro’s “Shoulder Lean” and “We In Da City,” did a great job of breaking up the R&B vibe for a moment.
Relatively unknown artist T-Royal, a very talented Atlanta native, sang renditions of Mary J. Blige and Tevin Campbell songs before singing his new single, “Your Bed.”
For four hours concert-goers were treated to some (and I stress “some”) of the best in R&B and it was a great way to end the week while remaining in the holiday spirit.