R. Kelly, Keyshia Cole, Marsha Ambrosius Toyota Center June 5, 2011
Ed. Note: Rocks Off was not given review tickets for this show, just a photo pass, so we asked Marco to review what he could of the openers and Kelly's first three songs.
R. Kelly, the Pied Piper of R&B, two-stepped his way into the Toyota Center Sunday night for an evening full of love, lust and lap dances. The Chi-Town crooner had the women swooning and the gents thankful for the aural lubrication he bestowed upon them. Never before has the term "baby-making music" been taken to its most literal definition.
Teaming the multiple Grammy winner with Marsha Ambrosius and Keyshia Cole, Kells' Love Letter Tour celebrates his eleventh studio album. Ambrosius opened with a soulful rendition of Michael Jackson's "Butterflies," a song which she co-wrote. She also did her best to win over the crowd by covering H-Town's "Knockin Da Boots" and other locally themed melodies.
The set for Cole (above) was set up to mirror an urban street scene complete with lamp posts, candy-painted slabs and a subway platform. The reality television star descended from the platform to sing her older hits such as "Shoulda Let You Go" and "I Should Have Cheated" before switching up to the singles from her current album Calling All Hearts, including "Take Me Away."
When the lights finally dimmed for the main event, we were treated to a short movie intro that placed Kelly at a Prohibition-era bar complete with a piano man and bow-tied bartender. A love interest is attempting to convince Kells to take her back, even after she left him... for another woman.
He finally agrees after she promises to do "anything" he needs her to do, and the show starts strong with "Happy People" and "Step In The Name of Love," before delving into more scandalous numbers. We left the arena feeling dirtier than a hipster who spent all weekend at Summer Fest, and that was just fine by us.
Personal Bias: Lots of close calls in high school because of this man's music
The Crowd: Real-life pimps and wannabe pimps in suits, fedoras, and gators; voluptuous women in skin-tight everything
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Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm about to start a riot up in here!"
Random Notebook Dump: Great end to a long weekend.