It was a clear crisp Valentine's night in Dallas, Texas. As a matter of fact, it was one of the most gorgeous nights we've had in awhile. A slight cool breeze blew through Victory Plaza, and I thought to myself that it would have to be a holiday for the city streets to be so empty. Inside the American Airlines Center, the Old School 94.5 Love Train concert was already under way. Celebrated locally for their soul, oldies, and quiet storm format- the Dallas radio station has been successful for the second year in a row at putting together a Valentine's Day celebration for the grown & sexy set.
As I made my way to my seat, the R&B supergroup collective Lover's Delight was on stage. Made up of Phil Perry, Tony Terry, Michael Cooper, Larry Dodson, and Glen Jones, Lovers Delight was definitely a crowd pleaser. Each member did a three song set, then came together as a group for their final number, "Anticipation". The particular stand outs here were Glen Jones' impressive vocal range, and Phil Perry's distinct falsetto. These veteran entertainers did not disappoint
The frozen margaritas were flowing. The arena, about ⅔ full, was a sea of red sweaters and fancy Valentine's ensembles bouncing along to the Wobble or the Cupid Shuffle. Before long, it was time for Ms. Patti to take the stage. And that's when everything got perfect. In a red pantsuit and matching fur stole, Patti LaBelle opened her set with a rousing performance of one of her biggest hits, "New Attitude". From there, she went into some her classic R&B ballads, including "If You Only Knew".
Atop the white piano played by her accompanying music director, John Stanley, were two pairs of red-bottomed Christian Louboutin heels, and a silver handled- hand mirror. Every three to four songs, Ms. LaBelle would pick it up to check her hair and makeup. Every time she did, the crowd would roar and cheer. At 68 years young, as she puts it, Ms. LaBelle is still as gorgeous as ever, and her voice is virtually unaged. You won't catch her trying to act any younger than she is, however. When a patron yelled "I love you!" and reached up to touch Ms. LaBelle's hand, she responded, "I love you too, honey. I can't bend down," proceeding to croon into the mic, "I don't want to hurt myself."
Before singing the timeless, "Love, Want, and Need You", Ms. LaBelle told the crowd, "This song has been recorded by Nelly, Kelly, Lloyd, Outkast, and almost everyone else. But don't get it twisted, I did it first." Closing out with her version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", Ms. LaBelle reminded us again what an OG diva she is, when she lifted her microphone stand over her head and threw it clear across the stage. Who could follow that?
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Apparently not Heads of State. After a way-too-long intermission, the lights dimmed and Bobby Brown made strange noises into the microphone for about three and a half minutes before he, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant finally took the stage. The crowd was largely unmoved, unimpressed, and by the time the former New Edition members had reached their fourth song- about ⅓ of the arena was heading for the doors.
Obviously intoxicated, Brown acted erratically. Taking a set break to banter with the audience, Brown proceeded to mount a speaker and complain that he'd "pulled an ass cheek." When Tresvant tried to steer him back into the direction of the performance, Brown threatened him, "Don't kick me tonight. Don't you dare kick me tonight, Ralph." He continued to ramble, "Old School 94.5 told me to behave myself tonight before I came out here. But I told them, fuck that! It's Valentine's Day!"
With the exception of one or two songs, Brown could most not keep with with Gill and Tresvant. They did their best to carry the set, but it's obvious that Brown's voice has not held up over the years the way his group mate's have. Lesson learned, 94.5.