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Maze Feat. Frankie Beverly, Isley Brothers & Kem at Toyota Center, 8/16/2013

The Isley Brothers
The Isley Brothers
Photos by Justin Avery

Bounce TV Music Festival Feat. Maze w/Frankie Beverly, the Isley Brothers & Kem Toyota Center August 16, 2013

Soulful, upbeat sounds in combination with sultry "baby-making music" combed through the spirits of the reminiscing concertgoers at Friday's Bounce TV Music Festival, a delightful exhibition of timeless rhythm and blues by two timeless acts, the Isley Brothers and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.

"This one is for the lovers," said Kem, the youngster among Friday's trio of performers. "Where are the lovers tonight? I want to see the couples," Kem stated as he began to sing the lyrics to the love ballad "Share My Life.

He also added an element of comedy to his performance when he said, "I sing these songs for the ladies... but I'm working for the fellas. My hope is that once you put on the Kem record, 50 percent of your work is done."

The Notorious Mr. Big (left)
The Notorious Mr. Big (left)

Cheers rang throughout the Toyota Center as Ernie Isley took the stage dressed in vibrant red, wielding his guitar as if it were a championship trophy. Just when it seemed as though the maximum crowd volume had been reached, however, Ronald Isley appeared in the center spotlight surrounded by two beautiful dancers, his black tuxedo and black-lacquer cane only enhancing his persona of Mr. Biggs.

The melody of "Between the Sheets" soothed the crowd as the song bridged the generational gap by mixing in sounds from the Notorious B.I.G.'s "Big Poppa," which samples the Isley Brothers' hit. This preceded another widely sampled Isley Brothers number, "Footsteps In the Dark," which you may remember as the foundation of one of Ice Cube's biggest hits, "It Was a Good Day." After Mr. Biggs took a brief second to introduce brother Ernie, he pulled a stool from the shadows and the crooning ensued.

Toward the latter part of the Isleys' performance, Ron ventured into a few of the successful songs he created with the self-proclaimed "Pied Piper of R&B," R. Kelly. First was "Down Low," in which Kelly carries on an affair with the wife of Mr. Biggs, followed by "Contagious," where the dangerous liason continues.

Review continues on the next page.

 

Frankie Beverly (center)
Frankie Beverly (center)

Afterward, a galaxy of cell-phone LED camera lights provided illuminated the otherwise pitch-black room in anticipation of Maze and lead singer Frankie Beverly. Once the seven-piece ensemble was in position, the party got going full-swing. Arms waved and feet danced up and down the aisles as Beverly performed some of the best sounds from his feel-good catalog.

"Southern Girl" set an upbeat tempo for the set as women all around the venue celebrated their Southern heritage in the form of a singalong. The crowd erupted when the band began to play the backyard barbecue anthem "Before I Let Go"; not a single person was seated for the song's duration.

People who had never met sang together in unison like family members on karaoke night. The smiling faces of the overjoyed patrons created a certain warmth throughout the arena.

"Y'all havin' a good time out there!?" Beverly asked. "All right now, got-damn it!" His rhetorical question received a reply of barreling ovations.

I have often wondered how more seasoned acts managed to perform with the same intensity that they exhibited in their younger years; but I now realize that age is no match for music this timeless. Although the beautiful background dancers provided wonderful aesthetics to the show, ultimately the sounds of the vocalists and instrumentalists is what made people want to get up out of their seats and rejoice in the rhythm.

The Crowd: Grown folks.

Overheard In the Crowd: "Our young people have absolutely no idea."

Random Notebook Dump: When you have been performing onstage for more than 50 years, you're allowed to forget a few word here and there.

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