What do you get when you pair two of the smoothest voices in contemporary R&B music? A concert experience that may ensure that you’ll have a wonderful rest of the night.
Thursday night, March 31, Baltimore was covered in a love fest when the Kem and Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds “Full Circle” Tour rolled into town for its second show at the Chesapeake Employers Insurance Arena. Upon pulling up to the arena and finding my parking spot, I already had the feeling that this was going to be a bit of an upscale event, as all the women and the men who accompanied them were decked out and dressed to the nines.
Being taken out to a show where your soul will be fed by musical greatness is already a flex, but attending a show with double the entertainment value is something that will get you brownie points. How many of you can say that you’ve been to a concert AND comedy show all in one night? I know I personally can’t, but there’s a first time for everything. The host for the evening was comedienne Sherri E. Shepherd, and instead of just announcing the artist then leaving the stage, she blessed us with a 15 minute comedic monologue that had arena rumbling in laughter.
After we were warmed up and on a high note from Sherri, everyone’s favorite songwriter took us to another stratosphere. Grammy award winning artist Babyface is someone who has been making hits for the past 40+ years, and his set was not only just a brief testament of his impact on the sound of music, but also a major impact on our lives as well. Taking the stage and walking down a flight of steps to his 1993 hit “For the Cool in You” was the perfect entrance that any artist could have ever made. Greeted by four of his awesome band members, who also served as supporting vocalist and background dancers, Face smoothly slid across stage in such a masterly fashion that gave the indication that he didn’t come to play.
During his set which ran for 55 minutes long, I was immediately transported back to my childhood when songs such as “Every Time I Close My Eyes“, “Soon As I Get Home“, “Never Keeping Secrets“, and “Whip Appeal“. It’s rather astonishing to hear these hits in a live presentation and sound almost identical to the original recorded versions, so we’ve got to give Edmonds ALL the props in being able to maintain his vocals after such a long tenure in the music industry.
With a back catalog as expansive as his, we would have been going all night, but in a righteous decision, he decided to split his show up in to two different parts. The latter focusing on the magnitude of songs that he’s written for other artist, and we know that Babyface has one of THEE best pen games in all of music history…that’s up for debate. A trip down memory lane began with one of the first songs that he ever wrote, “Slow Jam” by Midnight Star, and just kept going, including Brandy’s “Sittin’ Up In My Room“, “Rock Steady” by the Whispers, “Can’t Stop” by After 7, Bobby Brown’s “Don’t Be Cruel“, TLC’s “Baby Baby Baby“, Boyz II Men’s “End Of The Road” and many, MANY more! His closing song was an emotional moment, when he paid homage to The Voice of our generation, Ms. Whitney Houston by playing “Exhale (Shoop Shoop)” while showing imagery of her on the screens.
Sherri returned to the stage for a few moments of additional comic relief before introducing our main headliner of the night, Mr. “Hey Girrrrrl” himself. Even before Kem stepped foot on the stage, his band, which appeared more like a mini orchestra, had set the tone musically for what we were about to receive. If there’s one thing that look forward to and pay close attention to in any show that I attend, it’s the band, and the quality of musicianship and how well they enhance the sounds of tunes that we already know; this band nailed it for me. From the leading notes of his debut single “Love Calls“, I couldn’t help myself from grooving and snapping my fingers. Sliding in so effortlessly with the music, was Kem’s distinct voice that made everything blend so well together.
This is what “grown folks” music is made of, soulful sounds, real singing, and lyrics that hold true value and meaning. Although this wasn’t billed as an anniversary tour, the timing of it couldn’t be any more perfect since he is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his first album “Kemistry“. 20 year’s worth of hits were unpacked to include several of our favorites, such as “You’re on My Mind“, “My Favorite Thing“, “You’re On My mind“, “Nobody“ and, “Share My Life”. Please don’t be fooled in to thinking that this was only a greatest hits show, because the tour is in support of his latest EP also entitled “Full Circle“, in which he lifted his newest single “Stuck On You” and most recent hit “Lie To Me“. Although most of the songs were being sung TO the ladies, he was singing FOR the fellas!
At one point of the show, a fan by the name Christine walked to the front of the stage and handed Kem her cell phone so that he could give her a personalized, birthday shoutout video, but made it be very clear that he was a family man and happily married to his wife. The importance of family played into many other aspects of his show, because you can see that he treats everyone who supports him on stage as family. His two female background dancers worked extremely well around him, and there was also a spotlight on his background singer J.J. Evans, who paid homage to 70s soul band, Shalamar, with his rendition of “For the Lover in You“, which blew everyone out of their seats.
“I Can’t Stop Loving You“ was the final song of the night, and quintessential ode to his legion of fans who were all in attendance, thanking them for supporting him since the beginning of his career. We couldn’t have asked for anything more out of this show. For it to only be literally at the beginning of a tour run, this felt like an already well oiled machine that has been going on for months.
Outfits ✅ Comedy show ✅✅ an amazing concert with love invoking music on deck ✅✅✅, make sure you pass the word to your friends to drop a little buzz in their mate’s ear, that this is the ultimate date night opportunity, and to get your tickets now, because the tour rolls on until May 15.