Photo courtesy of BPC
It was a night of R&B nostalgia on Thursday, March 16th, at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., when New Edition's Legacy Tour made a stop. Fresh off last year's highly successful Culture Tour, NE reunited with the Black Promoters Collective for another tour. New Jack Swing Legends Guy and Keith Sweat joined NE for this go-round, in addition to fellow DMV Native Tank.
The show started promptly at 7 p.m. with R&B lothario Tank up first. While Tank is known for his ballad and baby-making music, he kicked off his set with the up-tempo fan favorite "You're My Star." Regretfully, Tank didn't have a band backing him, but he still delivered a solid performance. Highlights of Tank's performance included "#BDAY," "When We," and "Slow," where J. Valentine joined him. Tank could have easily just kept things sexy and won over the crowd, but he also found to explore the heartache in relationships. "Can't Let It, Show," "Maybe I Deserve," "Please Don't Go," and the closer "I Can't Make You Love Me" all went over well with the audience.
Up next was the R&B trio Guy, who was met with thunderous applause from the audience. Guy had an assembly of dancers, a background screen featuring CGI-style animation, and pristine background vocalists. Initially teasing the crowed "Dancin" from their ill-fated 2000 reunion album, Guy III, the group quickly went into a bevy of classics, including "Groove Me," "Her," "Teddy's Jam," and "Wanna Get With You." On the slow jam side of things, "Goodbye Love," "Let's Chill," and "Piece Of My Love" were all performed. Sadly, Aaron's Hall voice isn't what it once was, but he was happy to be there, and the crowd enjoyed him.
A brief solo performance from Teddy Riley closed the set before a smooth transition into Keith Sweat. My wife and I saw Sweat this past fall, and we both agreed that he was more polished this time. Sweat's time on stage saw performances of "Merry Go Round," "I Want Her," "There U Go Tellin Me No Again," and the closer "Nobody ."Sweat also took time to perform covers of songs he wrote for other artists and to pay homage to the late great Gerald LeVert.
Finally, it was time for the legend to hit the stage. NE hit the stage around 9:30 and came out swinging with an energetic performance of "Crucial," which was followed by JG'S "Rub You the Right Way" and the Brown Bomber's "My Prerogative. "Despite some sound issues during "If It Isn't Love," Ralph Tresvant kept it moving as a seasoned pro, staying in choreography sync with Ronnie, Johnny, Ricky, and Mike. Naturally, all of the familiar songs, "Mr. Telephone Man," "Cool It Now," and "Candy Girl," were performed.
Additionally, the group's signature solo hits also were featured. Fans will also be excited to know that "I'm Still In Love With You," "Popcorn Love," and "Lost In Love" are back in the setlist. As is Johnny Gill's "There U Go" and Bell Biv Devoe's "Smile Again." The group closed with the show with "NE Heartbreak."
I am a die-hard New Edition fan, but I did have some minor gripes. A few songs could have transitioned more smoothly, given the placement in the setlist. So I would move some things around. Furthermore, while I love all of the early hits, if these songs saw abbreviation to a medley and a swap with their later hits, I'm sure the crowd would love it. I would love to see tracks from Home Again and a few more solo bops.
Nevertheless, after forty years in the game, New Edition is still one of the best to do it, and I look forward to seeing them in Baltimore next month as well.
Final Grade: A -