Last night at the Superdome Usher brought the sexy, Uncle Charlie kept us on our feet, and the divas brought the house down. A review of EMF 2011's first night of concert performances.
After a fun day of Convention Center cruising, the crowd at ESSENCE Music Festival 2011 headed to the Superdome to hear the best of the old and new school for the first evening of big musical performances. An amazing lineup awaited them. From Boyz II Men to Fantasia to Usher, the lineup had everyone with their ticket in hand anxious to fill the arena and get the party started.
Philly based favorite Boyz II Men kicked off the night just right by hitting the stage wearing those signature preppy vests and jeans combo we love and crooning hit after hit. When they got to “Motown Philly,” the entire audience was two-stepping along to the groove. Performances of “I’ll Make Love to You,” “On Bended Knee” and ”A Song for Mama” had the crowd blissfully swaying down memory lane.
Next to the stage was our girl Fantasia who came right on out “testifying” with her out-of-this-world vocals and spent her entire set taking everybody to church. She brought the arena to it’s feet with her rendition of Prince’s “Kiss” then the shoes came off and the truth about her recent struggles came out.
Tasia opened up to fans delivering back-to-back emotionally driven yet pitch perfect versions of her new hit “Collard Greens and Cornbread” and older faves “Truth Is”, “When I See You,” “Bittersweet,” and “Free Yourself.” Her little black gown shimmered and shook as Fantasia rocked the stage and got a few things off her chest. “You can say what you want about me,” she told the audience. “I’m human.” Fantasia proudly proclaimed that she felt like a new and healed woman. We’re glad to hear it Tasia and that’s why it was no surprise that your “I’m Doin’ Me” performance resulted in a standing ovation.
Next up, Ms. Jennifer Hudson came out looking and sounding like the powerhouse diva we all know and love. Her hair? Fierce. Her body? Bangin’. Her voice? Supreme, as usual. Her call and response style performance kept her fans in the moment as she crooned “Angel” with such beauty and soul then changed it up with a stellar surprise duet of The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” with fellow American Idol alum George Huff. We forgot how well George could blow! Thanks for the pleasant reminder Jen.
When it came time for Charlie Wilson’s much anticipated set (his third year at EMF), he brought the house to it’s feet and kept their hands in the air with his endless cool and rockin’ performances of old and new school hits. From jazzy funk (“You Dropped the Bomb On Me”) to soul-infused sexy ballads (“First Name Charlie, Last Name Wilson” and “Let’s Chill”) Uncle Charlie’s vocals, nonstop energy, and spectacular band and dance crew really stole the evening’s show. With four suit changes (love it!) and his signature gyrations it was clear Charlie know how to bring down the house and satisfy his die-hard fan base – which was undoubtedly everyone in the building.
Then finally to top off a perfect evening daddy came home and the women went bananas. By the time headliner Usher levitated (yes, levitated) onto the stage to start his set the audience’s energy level was already on ten! Jaws dropped and screams rang out as Usher performed on a futuristic stage filled with visual surprises and funky flair. Usher effortlessly glided through amazing performances of hits like “There Goes My Baby” “Love In This Club” “Lil Freak” and “Yeah!” but it was his touching tribute to Michael Jackson (his “last one this year”) that really elevated the evening past perfection. The band rocked instrumentals of “Rock With You” and “Billie Jean” as Usher moonwalked and gyrated back and forth across the stage with moves that sure would have made MJ proud.