Concert Review: Anthony Hamilton and Estelle

Thanks to an equalized mix of funk and gospel, pinches of rock and rap and generous servings of southern-flavored soul, Anthony Hamilton gave an exhilarating performance for a packed venue of thousands when he brought his “Back to Love” tour to Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theater on Wednesday night.

Thanks to an equalized mix of funk and gospel, pinches of rock and rap and generous servings of southern-flavored soul, Anthony Hamilton gave an exhilarating performance for a packed venue of thousands when he brought his “Back to Love” tour to Grand Prairie’s Verizon Theater on Wednesday night.

The Charlotte, NC native was greeted with a standing ovation as the five-piece band and a talented trio of male backing vocalists launched into the highly-charged “Sucka For You.” It may not have been the most recognizable song, but Mr. Hamilton was clearly setting the pace for the night, establishing from the jump that his gritty vocals were versatile enough to interpret more than typical R&B. And just to prove that his weathered voice belied his still-youthful 41 years, Mr. Hamilton joined the singing trio under blue, blinking strobe lights to strut and pop-lock as they dropped a verse from Run-DMC’s “It’s Like That (And That’s The Way It Is),”  which made fans rocket out of their seats, pump their fists and cheer them on with ‘go ‘head, go ‘head, go ‘head, go ‘head!”

In his leather pants, a denim vest and his signature derby hat, Mr. Hamilton was a potent blend of suave and street, conveying older favorites and newer hits just as flawlessly as they appear on his CDs. The band tweaked the music here and there to add more modern flavoring, such as “Cool” and “Woo,” and the trio even recited a verse that parodied “The Signifying Monkey” from Dolemite to kick off his breakout 2003 smash, “Comin’ From Where I’m From”: “Way down in the jungle deep…. there lived a dope brother, funny and deep. His voice shook the earth when they heard him speak. The man was so cool, so dope and so fresh, that when he put it down, he did it the best.” If that still wasn’t funky enough, his interpolating of Parliament’s “Let Me Ride” pushed the Funk-O-Meter into the red and finished the job.

Mr. Hamilton’s nearly hour-and-a-half segment on stage wasn’t filled with a lot of back-and-forth chat with the audience, but he was still warm and accessible, giving high-fives and posing for fans as they flocked to the front with camera phones, telling security to back off when they tried to stop a step-dancing couple during “Best of Me” (“They’re alright”) and emotionally dedicating his heart-stopping ballad, “Point of It All” to the crowd before adding a verse from Prince’s “Adore. ” Telling the crowd to get “church ig’nant,” they gleefully soul-clapped along to the beat of his tambourine, cheered on his holy-dancing during “Praying For You” and encouraged him to “hurt em’ Anthony!” as he walked  through the aisles to sing amongst ecstatic fans before wrapping up with tender versions of “Pray For Me” and “Life Has a Way.”

The sassy and salty-tongued Estelle (“I curse sometimes, it’s going to happen”) was also enjoyable during her half-hour opening slot. Poured into a skintight black sheath of a mini-dress, she opened with a Supremes’-recalling “You Can’t Hurry Love,” danced through “No Substitute Love” and “American Boy” and prefaced a lively version of the song “Freak” by instructing female fans through copying the suggestive moves.  “Thank You” and “Wonderful Life” were pick-me-ups she sang with engaging enthusiasm, reminders that new days gave her “a chance to do yesterday better” and “to take a Midol when I’m PMSing.” “Sing this one as you’re hugging yourself,” she said of “Wonderful Life,” and practically everyone obliged. 

By Melody Charles

 
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