Everyone loves the sounds of live music, but one thing that we love a bit more than that is when the setting is just right. Imagine clear skies, a mildly temperate summer night, enough breeze to keep you cool, and a backdrop of Baltimore’s famous Inner Harbor…these were the exact feels that we got for the Anthony Hamilton concert that took place at the MECU Pavilion on September 1st.
The show kicked off at around 7:30 PM with the female group En Vogue opening up with their 1992 hit “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)“. Going through a couple of different iterations, the landscape of EV may have looked a little different from how the Baltimore crowd once remembered them. Now touring as a trio, comprised of Terri Ellis, Cindy Herron, and Rhona Bennett, one thing has remained the same…those voices. Their voices sounded as crisp and clear as they did on wax, preserving all the harmonies that made their songs classics. Originating during a time when talent actually “mattered” in music, the group still rested on the laurels of what made them famous some 25+ years ago.
It was truly a sing-a-long moment as the audience knew the words to all the hits including “Whatta Man“, their duet with Salt-N-Pepa, “Free Your Mind“, “Don’t Let Go (Love)” and “Give It Up, Turn It Loose”. With the tremendous loss that the music industry suffered last week, the performance of “Giving Him Something He Can Feel” was dedicated to the one and only Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, but only rightfully so since their version WAS a cover of her original song. En Vogue reminded everyone that they currently released a new album by the title of “Electric Cafe“, and performed a few of the new offerings from that project, including the lead single “Rocket“. To close out the show, Terri belted out the iconic lyrics “Wheeeeeeeen I, had you…” which signaled the beginning of their very first single “Hold On“. I think for a minute all of the women in the crowd had mentally transported back to a time where they were using their hair brush as a microphone and singing the words to this song at the top of their lungs. It’s great to see that after all these years that the artists of the 90’s are still going strong on tour.
The mood was now being set for the headliner of the night. Preceded by his well known background singers The Hamiltones, Mr. Anthony Hamilton walked out on stage to a standing ovation, keeping a low key approach with his “cooled out” demeanor, rocking a western style hat, some shades, and a bandanna tied around his neck. He got into the groove of his Jill Scott assisted song “So In Love” (which happens to be my personal favorite track by him) with a bit of an extended version that kept the MECU Pavilion on a steady two-step.
For anyone who came to the show, they already knew what they were in for, unadulterated soul singing with the common theme of love. Throughout the set, Mr. Hamilton made it his direct point to serenade the women of Baltimore, with direct intent to get them “ready for the night”. Yes folks, he made a call to the men to let them know that HIS prime purpose of being on stage was to help lay the ground work for them to have a much more enjoyable night after the show was over, if you catch our drift.
With a career that spans over 20 years, it’s often difficult for an artist to find the right song choices to include in a show that lasts for an hour and a half, but the setlist was certainly solid, including jams that you couldn’t escape on the radio to a few deep album cuts. “Comin’ From Where I’m From” chronicles his humble beginnings in North Carolina, “The Point Of It All” shows his sincerest feelings for the one that he loves most, but also showed how dynamic his band is because they fused the cut with Prince’s “Until The End Of Time“, and it sounded like a mashup that we thought we never would hear, but needed to hear, and of course “Charlene“.
We even got a chance to go to church a little bit, but what else would you expect from an artists who is proud of his southern baptist roots? The concert ended in a bit of an unexpected manner when he gave the floor to The Hamiltones to do what they do best. It’s so refreshing to see when a talented lead vocalist is able to find a background vocalist who is equally yolked, much less THREE of them, to share the stage and everything just meshes together. Thanks for continuing to make meaningful music that fills and lifts the soul Anthony, this is what the World needs today to keep us all grounded.