Brian McKnight was one of many performers forced to postpone concerts due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, McKnight was scheduled for a performance at Bethesda's Strathmore Music Hall on April 11th, 2020. Thankfully, by the grace of GOD, McKnight was able to appear at the venue on Friday, January 14th.
Sporting a black two-piece suit McKnight opened his show with a cover of "Sexual Healing" before transitioning into "Anytime" and "The Only One for Me" from his 1997 album Anytime. After winning over the crowd with his classic material, McKnight began performing newer material. "Forever" from his 2017 album Genesis. While the crowd's response wasn't as lively to his more recent material, McKnight kept the show moving right into his emblematic cover of Van Morrison's "Crazy Love."
Brian then made his way into what he coined the sad song portion of his show. This portion of the show also gave McKnight a chance to display his guitar skills. "Get Over You," "Lonely," and "6,8,12" all sound great, and McKnight easily allows you to feel whatever pain he may have gone through while writing the songs. McKnight's show then took a different angle with a medley dedicated to singers we have lost.
The tributes began with the classic party starter "Never Too Much" by Luther Vandross's "Never Too Much" with the King of Pop's "Rock With You" following. McKnight then pulled off near-perfect renditions of two of the most challenging songs to cover. First was Prince's "The Beautiful Ones" from the Purple Rain soundtrack. McKnight sang the song in his falsetto range and closed out the performance with a heartfelt plea of the song's closing lyrics.
The final artist to receive tribute was "The Voice," aka Ms. Whiney Houston. Taking the audience back to 1992, McKnight brought the house down with a cover of Houston's "I Have Nothing" Naturally, the audience sang along word for word, and Nippy's legacy was alive and well. McKnight then glided into a performance of his signature song, "Back At One."
McKnight reminded the audience that his career spans thirty years and includes fifteen albums during the show. McKnight has to omit numerous hits from his setlist due to an expansive catalog. "Love Is," "Stay or Let It Go," "What's My Name," and "Love of My Life" all went unperformed. On the contrary, newer songs found their way into the setlist. McKnight performed the sensual "10 Million Stars," which sets the mood for a night of romance while avoiding vulgarity. In addition, there was a performance of two wedding songs, "Everything" and "Nobody," both of which express his love for his current wife. All three sounded fantastic live.
McKnight closed the show with the Kobe Bryan tribute "Can't Say Goodbye." McKnight was still grieving for the NBA legend, as he was very emotional on stage during the performance. Fortunately, the night did not conclude on a somber note. Amid numerous applauses, McKnight returned to the stage for an encore performance of "Cherish. This show was my sixth seeing McKnight live, and the singer remains one of my favorite live performers.
Final Grade: A-