"Icon" is a heavy weighted word, like "diva." Mind you, it does not carry the burdensome connotations that the latter proposes these days. The word icon is used to describe a person or a thing as a representative of something. And in this case, Ms. Jody Watley is the representation of class, attitude, fashion and of being a fearless purveyor of all things funky and sensational. Friday night (July 31) in B.B. King's, Jody Watley reminded everyone just how fitting that term is with regard to her.
Decked out in a black sequined top, one glove, sunglasses, her signature hoop earrings and that phenomenal fro (very reminiscent of MJ) - Jody Watley strutted her way on stage to the mic and opened her set with her cover of Chic's "I Want Your Love." And from that intro, she did not stop! Each hit song segued into another, "Your Love Keeps Working On Me" and "I Want You" and then right back to "I Want Your Love" effortlessly. The mantra for the night from the lady herself was, "It's nothing but a Jody Watley party!! And it's all about love tonight!" The audience didn't mind at all and everyone was quite content, besides, the party had just begun.
And so it continued and didn't miss a step, moving along with "I'm The One You Need" and then a funked and grooved up version of "Looking For A New Love" had everyone losing their collective minds. Patrons were aching to get out of their seat to shimmy and vogue it out. Explaining how "Don't You Want Me" was inspired by her love for New York City, Jody showed-off the dancing skills that she was first known for, from her Soul Train days. Strutting like a proud peacock, attitude at its peak and ready to give it to you! The delivery of "Friends" was bass heavy and altogether different than the version we are used to. But to top it off with "Everything," asking the crowd, "Do you love this song?!" was simply divine. The crowd's singalong and rousing applause after the song (that lasted for quite some time), was a sure sign of how much love there is for the track and the accomplished artist.
At this time, we came to the "free form" part of the show as Jody called it. A jazzy rendition of Roy Ayers' "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" was played by the band, while Jody sang various ad libs throughout. No one realized where she was going with this segment, until she sang a snippet of "A Night To Remember" and cleverly added: "Act like you want it, cause this is quick!" Adding on quick, yet satisfying snippets of "Lover In You" and "Make Your Move" were precious and rewarding. During the â€˜cleansing' moment of the show, Jody shared that she can never be upset from the experience of Shalamar, but can take the good from it, learn and carry on. And that is exactly what she did.
Starting the last segment of the show with her recent single "Candlelight" was surely the mellowest part of the evening. Once the drum intro came in for "Real Love," Jody was on the floor sashaying and cat crawling and then...the shoes came off. As the screens played Jody Watley video snippets, B.B. King's all of a sudden turned into a samba dance party. Jody had mentioned on Twitter she would love to have Rakim and dancer extraordinaire Tyrone Proctor as guests at the show. Well, her wish came true for the latter. The fierce Tyrone Proctor hit the stage and turned it out with Jody, attitude posing and bringing "It's Still A Thrill" to life! The future students of â€˜Diva' training joined the two on stage, for a finale that was energetic, relentless and simply brilliant. Ending the show with a dedication to Michael Jackson with "You Wanna Be Starting Something" allowed Jody to strut off stage, exactly the same way she strutted on. Shades on, with attitude in tow.
Ever so friendly throughout her performance, Jody stopped to pose and take pictures mid-song. She also stopped to give compliments and shake hands with her fans in the audience. Her band kept the pace and her cowboy hat-wearing DJ Bill Coleman didn't miss a beat or step with Jody. Their choreographed movements were in synch and timed to the tee. The only unfortunate element of the night was that the show was a seated event. With all of the energy emitted from the stage, everyone wanted to get up and dance - but there was no dance floor! This was definitely not a show to be seated at, there was too much to celebrate. All in all, everyone did what they could in their seat, since as Jody said - it was all about love.
By Ann Marie Collymore