Review: Swinging Without Teddy, a Tony and a Clear Sound System

Bobby Brown and Aaron Hall Make Up for Glitches

Ticket holders for the New Jack Swing Reunion Tour were in high spirits Friday evening as they walked through the doors of the Show Place Arena in Upper Marlboro, Md., for what promised to be an eventful night. Fans made sure to arrive early to purchase an array of souvenirs, food and drinks. The arena slowly filled with fans dedicated to an era that has proven to be unforgettable.

Sponsored by radio station Magic 102.3 FM, the concert started off with the DJ playing some of the most popular songs from an era where “stupid” was something good and “def” did not mean that you were hard of hearing.

As the lights dimmed, the crowd roared with anticipation as brothers and band mates K-Ci & JoJo were called to the stage. K-Ci & JoJo bellowed some of their greatest hits including “All My Life,” “Tell Me It’s Real” and the Bobby Womack song “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.”

Although K-Ci enthralled the crowd with hip thrusts, being carried into the audience on a security guard’s shoulders and the constant removal of clothing, he and his brother were not the singers they used to be. The sound system also had technical complications that reoccurred throughout the night with all of the performers.

Tony Toni Toné took the stage second, and fans immediately noticed that the group was missing a Tony. Raphael Sadiq’s cousin Amar Khalil took his place. Khalil stayed true to Sadiq’s lyrical sounds, but fans still felt the void of the group’s famous member.

Tony Toni Toné performed hits “Whatever You Want,” “Feels Good,” “Anniversary” and “It Never Rains.” Even with Sadiq’s absence, the band showed that it could still rock an audience.

After a brief intermission, fans rushed back to their seats for what would come next. Unofficially named the King of R&B by ex-wife Whitney Houston, Bobby Brown and his bad boy image stormed the stage. The crowd roared as Bobby Brown, in his own charismatic way, joked about child support payments, jail time and his recent split from Houston.

Surprisingly, Brown’s voice was still evoked the same boyish personality as it did when he was younger. Brown charmed the audience with his hit “Tenderoni” and left the audience dancing to his signature song “My Prerogative.” Brown showed that he is in good physical health from his high energy dance moves and booming voice, despite the recent rumors of a heart attack.

When the last act took the stage, fans expected to see three band mates. Instead, they saw only one member from Guy, Aaron Hall. The father of the New Jack Swing movement, Teddy Riley, did not perform, nor did Hall’s brother Damian. Although Hall was alone, his performance made up for their absence.

Hall sang each song the way he did 20 years ago, making sure to hit each note. He scanned the audience for women that he could seduce on stage for a little bit of theatrics. He performed dances reminiscent of the New Jack Swing era. He also stood on chairs in the audience and performed the majority of his show with his fans.

Hall was unquestionably the highlight of the evening and more than made up for the many technical sound errors. Hopefully, these men will continue the new jack revival with a more intensive sound check and a more original cast.

Performers: B-Sound Technicians: F