Concert Review: Babyface, Brandy, Raheem wow Dallas

(July 29, 2018) In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt was a man who aged in reverse. That may have been a fantasy tale, but Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds might be a true-life vision of the phenomenon, based on the appearance and stamina of the 59-year-old performer when he headlined Dallas' packed-out Smooth Summer Groove show on Thursday night. 

(July 29, 2018) In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Brad Pitt was a man who aged in reverse. That may have been a fantasy tale, but Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds might be a true-life vision of the phenomenon, based on the appearance and stamina of the 59-year-old performer when he headlined Dallas' packed-out Smooth Summer Groove show on Thursday night. 

For his extended closing set, the seminal producer, songwriter and recording artist regaled fans with medleys and mashups of his enviable catalog: even as he joked about approaching 60 ("some things hurt now that didn't use to hurt, but that's cool"), his impossibly-well-preserved features made the quips hard for even his back-in-the-day fans to believe. Babyface's hour-plus set included hit collaborations (The Whispers' "Rock Steady," Johnny Gill's "Fairweather Friend," Bobby Brown's "Roni" and "Every Little Step," enthusiastic choreography included), heaping doses of his own hits in and outside The Deele ("Sunshine," "Whip Appeal," "Two Occasions") and funny banter about being out-done by DeBarge and learning songwriting skills from tourmate Luther Vandross as he watched from the wings. "I got those songs from falling in love and getting my heart broke," Edmonds revealed, but there was nothing but love when he closed with his Boyz II Men smash, "End of the Road,"unbuttoned his shirt and sung through the aisles, catching multiple fan selfies and ecstatic hugs along the way. 

She may have been plagued with spotty sound issues, but actress and multi-platinum songstress Brandy received the love of R&B royalty: fans immediately crowed the stage through her hour-long set and when security shooed them away when her mic needed adjusting, she beckoned them back: "The love is so amazing, I'm so glad to be here. Put it all on me Security!" She revealed that she was cutting a new album and didn't want to over-sing, but her pitch-perfect versions of "Baby," "I Wanna Be Down" and "Sitting On Top of the World," to name a few, received hearty sing-alongs. Her most revealing moment was when she sang a medley of Whitney Houston hits, telling everyone she would never be over the passing of the superstar and commanding everyone to stand for the tribute: "Sit down through my songs all you want to, I get it," Brandy said, "but you gotta show some love for Whitney!" 

Raheem DeVaughn kicked off the evening with a steady mixture of passion and politics: the Grammy-nominated, self-proclaimed "Love King" thanked fans for "rocking with me for the last 10 years" and grafted 70s classic soul throughout, tagging the Isley Brothers "Voyage to Atlantis" onto his latest single, "Love Don't Come Easy," and EWF's "Can't Hide Love" onto his early solo hit, "Guess Who Loves You More." In-between swoon-inducing moves and his silky falsetto, DeVaughn mentioned his DC roots and how the current administration was "misrepresenting what America is supposed to represent," starting with "Bulletproof" and ending with the powerful song and rhyme hybrid "America," proclaiming to all that they should "get the vote out to get those racist folks out." His belting out the last verse of "America, America, God shed his grace on thee," with a fist extended and on his knees, earned DeVaughn a standing ovation.

By Melody Charles

 
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
Choice Cut - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Featured Album - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

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