Two of R&B’s top powerhouse acts made a stop at Tucson’s AVA Amphitheatre on Aug. 5. Keith Sweat and En Vogue co-headlined an evening of old-time R&B and it was a fun-filled evening that delighted the packed house. AXS was able to catch the show and here are the best reasons to see this tour live.
1) It is En Vogue after all.
It is hard to believe that En Vogue has been performing for 28 years now. They have managed to stay fit, fresh, and fabulous. They released their first album of new material in 14 years. They have never stopped performing live during that time. They have sold more than 20 million albums over the years. Original members Cindy Heron-Braggs and Terry Ellis and newer recruit Rhona Bannett make up the group now.
2) En Vogue’s got the moves, the look, and the music
Everything about these lovely ladies was superb during this hour-long set. The smartly chosen black outfits displayed the ladies’ well-sculpted bodies. The ‘mile-high’ spiked heels gave everyone a lesson in how to dance in step perfectly on ‘stilts.’
Electric Café is En Vogue’s first album release since 2004 and it is a dandy. They did an interview with Wendy Williams recently and mentioned that they were not going to release an album until everything was right. This far, they have two hit songs from the album, “Déjà Vu” and the Ne-Yo penned “Rocket.” Their performance of “Rocket” was accompanied by the music video of the song. Filming videos has changed since the old days. The awesome video was filmed with the use of a drone.
Three songs in the set were from the new album. The remainder was dedicated to some of En Vogue’s hit songs that have formed their legacy. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” “Whatta Man,” and “Hold On” were fine examples of their past hits. En Vogue’s live vocals and harmonies can’t be beaten. Setlist here.
3) Keith Sweat proudly keeps old-style R&B alive
Sweat is the king of R&B slow jams and ‘New Jack Swing.’ During this show, he gave the fans plenty of those slow jams and some more upbeat music. Sweat’s raspy vocals were as crisp as they were in 1987 when he made his debut album. The set was filled with many of those 1990’s hits that have made Sweat famous.
4) Unadulterated fun
The hallmark of any Keith Sweat show is having fun. Both Sweat and the fans enjoy the show immensely. The stage is set with a couch and a love seat, a couple of tables and stools.Roses drape one of the tables and a bottle of Hennessey can be found with some glasses. Sweat starts early in the set asking. “Where’s my ladies at?” He invited some of the single ladies on stage to dance. Later, he asked, “Where are my couples at? Bring them on stage.”
As he gets them to populate the couches on stage, one fan in the front row gets angry. He finally invites her on stage and asked her what her name was. She announces with attitude, “My name is Dollie, spelled D-O-L-L-I-E.”
Sweat queries, “Where are you from Dollie? Dollie responds,“I’m from Jamaica and you know my family.”
Sweat responded, “I don’t know your family. What is your family’s name?”
Dollie answers with more attitude, “Underwood.”
Sweat laughs, “Oh, I know your family well. I need to drink a little Hennessey on this one.”
5) There is a complete ensemble of dancers, band and an announcer
The band was unique sporting four keyboard players and a female drummer. There were three background singers. Two of the singers were referred to as the “twins.” Angelo Ramone was the third background singer and he played keys at times during the set. Andre Harris played bass and keyboards. The other keyboard players were Hugh Perkins and Nathan Smith. The drummer was Dee Curry. Lewis Hill was the master of ceremonies.
The singers had many opportunities to sing solo throughout the set. Three dancers kept the moves going. Everyone was exceptionally talented as they supported Sweat.