By Mickey Lawrence
The present R&B circuit is in constant flux, looking for a direction. Does it want to follow the understated Neo Soul of Maxwell? Is it going to be beat driven, lyric driven, voice driven, or performance driven? There aren’t many constants in the game, but at this particular show we got a small idea of how the different aspects of present day R&B could handle themselves in front of a packed house.
The BB King’s Power R&B Live crowd was certainly a mature one, with the population definitely upper 20s and above. It was also heavily female and the testosterone level was minimal. Amerie, readying for her return to the market was a no-show, but there was plenty of star power on hand to give the people what they wanted.
After spirited performances from the undercard, the first major act was LeToya Luckett. The ex-Destiny’s child has forged a solid career in her own right and has been really on the grind as of late. She definitely showed off all that boot camp training with a medley of her songs in a clear effort to let the crowd know that she was her own woman and that she could deliver on stage. Her voice wasn’t album level status, but she was a good performer who gutted her way through a solid stage show.
Following a long intermission, Ryan Leslie took the stage like his life depended on it. He playfully bounced from the stage to behind the keyboard, showcasing the full range of his musicality. Leslie brought out a couple guests, including reggae star Wayne Wonder, but it was clear that the stage was all his. The standing room-only crowd was energized by his performance ans Leslie was the clear highlight of the night. Ryan Leslie is a musical prodigy and he did absolutely nothing to diminish that with his stadium worthy performance.
Bringing up the rear was the enigmatic, yet soulful Lyfe Jennings. With a platinum album under his belt as a solo artist, he was the most senior of the acts career-wise and his vet status was apparent early on. Due to time constraints, he wasn’t allowed to do his normal set, but he managed to slip in a few songs like 2004 single “Robbin Them,” a his version of “Birthday Sex” called “Funeral Sex” and a rendition of “Let’s Stay Together.” His raspy but soulful voice was the perfect pitch to close the show as most of the audience had been on their feet for 4 hours. Jennings also alerted the crowd that his next album would be his last, opting to take more time to raise his two sons. If that’s the case then we salute him and wish him well.
All in all, it was a solid night and the monthly BB King’s series Power R&B has another notch in its belt. Below are some original pics, live form the event courtesy of KAR photography.
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