Concert Review: Keyshia Cole and Chrisette Michele

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    Two sets, two ladies and two opposite approaches to making the music: that's what devoted fans experienced when Chrisette Michelle and headliner Keyshia Cole brought their Woman To Woman tour to Grand Prairie's Verizon Theater on Tuesday night. 

    Two sets, two ladies and two opposite approaches to making the music: that's what devoted fans experienced when Chrisette Michelle and headliner Keyshia Cole brought their Woman To Woman tour to Grand Prairie's Verizon Theater on Tuesday night. 

    In just under an hour and a half, Ms. Cole delivered five albums worth of hits, walking down one of the aisles to center stage while surrounded by security as she belted out the first few notes of "Shoulda Let You Go."  In front of a simple screen rendering of a city block, the 31-year-old joined her pair of male and female dancers and charged through an unbroken string of older and newer faves, such as "Zero," "Get It Right" and "I Changed My Mind" while both men and women parroted her word-for-word. Thanks to her white tank top, super-short denim shorts and a Rapunzel-type blond do,' Ms. Cole earned enthusiastic calls of "I see you Sexy!" and "Get it Keyshia!" from her male admirers, while the ladies cheered on her lyrics and channeled the pain and heartbreak that poured out of every note. 

    There may have been the lack of live instrumentation (drums, keyboards and a DJ were pretty much the extent of it), but Ms. Cole, DJ Active and her dancers kept the crowd hyped and on their feet for the majority of her time slot, whether she was leading them into truncated versions of "Love," "I Shoulda Cheated" and "Didn't I Tell You" or pretending to drown her man troubles away at a bar onstage before being told that "Gettin' drunk ain't gon' change no n****." Another highlight of the set was Keyshia's asking for another voice in the audience to come help deliver "Woman To Woman" and the crowd cheering on her awestruck participant as they sat on stools and turned the smash into a duet. 

    However, despite jams being spun from the ones and twos, the 6-pack-rocking male dancers and an enviable arsenal of hits ("I Remember," "Sent From Heaven," "Let It Go," "Enough Of No Love"), Ms. Cole's stage debut as a headliner left much to be desired. Not only was she moving through the choreography and songs in a '1-2-3, 1-2-3" perfunctory manner, Keyshia was alarmingly aloof to the crowd throughout the hour and a half long set. Maybe it's an increased wariness due to the reality show exposure, but beyond a couple of 'thank you's' to the crowd (which grew larger than expected due to another detached diva, Rihanna, cancelling her Dallas show scheduled for the same night), Keyshia missed many opportunities to connect. When the backdrop was lifted to reveal a spilt-level set with stairs leading to a bedroom, for example, she said it represented "letting y'all into my personal space," but never elaborated further than that. There was little eye contact or tactile interaction from the stage to her loving listeners below; in fact, the closest Keyshia ever got was during her opening walk-through into the crowd and long after her set, where fans waited in a long and restless assembly line to take pictures---at $40 a pop, no less---with the all-but-silent, yet smiling, Oakland, CA native. 

    Chrisette Michelle's 'set'---a whopping 20 minutes---was so short that if you went to the snack bar or took a bathroom break, you likely missed her, but she was a cool and collected contrast to Keyshia's urban appeal; poured into an elegant form-fitting peplum-styled evening dress and sequined pumps, Ms. Michelle joined a 4-piece Dallas-based band and one accompanying female vocalist to perform "Epiphany," "Blame It On Me" and "Couple of Forevers," a lovely and lilting song that she promised would be on Better, her upcoming June release. Interscope artist Mateo all but squeaked in and had to contend with only a DJ, his keyboards and a ratty microphone, but he did have a smooth voice, self-assured stage presence and managed to jump out into the audience to serenade a happily-surprised young lady with a track from his latest release, Suite 823.

    By Melody Charles

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