A lot of good things went down at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Friday night, but Solange Knowles' performance was not one of them. The songstress paled in comparison to veteran singer Gladys Knight, who went on after Solange's 1960s- and '70s-inspired, mess of a set. In keeping with the theme, her band was decked out in hot-pink Beatlesque suits. The backup singers donned throwback hairdos, and their girl-group choreography was on point, yet none of that seemed to help Solange's sub-par singing and exaggerated hair flouncing. She managed to belt out her rendition of "Shout" with some finesse, but for much of the show sounded like a school girl singing in front of the mirror with a brush. She closed with a scattered performance of her most recognized single "I Decided," which was mangled by a shout out, a swift change of shoes and her inability to run around the arena begging an unimpressed, uninvolved audience, for the umpteenth time, to join in. So naturally, Knight was a glass of ice water after a brief stint in music hell. She's been performing at the rodeo since 1984 and addressed the audience as old friends. Knight sang well-known hits "Love Overboard," "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye)" with little effort, which speaks to her ability to still please audiences, even when they're as sparse as Friday night. She's been entertaining a long time, and that couldn't have been more evident than through her rich voice quality and stage presence. Knight was spunky and fun and really got the crowd moving, showing her younger R&B counterpart how it's done.
While the concert was poorly attended, that didn't keep Knight from putting on a spectacular show.
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Paid attendance: 49,474.