The star-studded Rivers State leg of the New Edition concert in Port Harcourt continued where the Lagos version left off. Adewole Ajao reports
The rain did not dampen hopes for a good show. After a successful Lagos leg of the New Edition Live in Concert, the R28 organisers were upbeat about the successful curtains on a two-city tour. The lineup also exuded confidence.
Apart from the US-based quartet of Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe, a handful of indigenous artistes were sure to make it an unforgettable night.
One thing about the Garden City was its preponderance of protégés. One was Burna Boy who opened an evening of performances at the Polo Ground venue. It was hard to place the handkerchief-swinging singer, who could rap and croon in pidgin. Modest yet dexterous, he showed what all the initial hype about his fledging career was about.
His performance was followed by that of another Rivers artiste Duncan Mighty. The self-styled Port Harcourt’s first son whipped up religious tunes with his array of tracks. Mighty’s performance with his khaki-donning band was one of the highlights for the night.
Mode Nine also featured with a few minutes on stage. But in an event that had African Queen crooner, Tu Face Idibia, it was always going to be hard to take the shine off one of Africa’s musical heavyweights.
Tu Face came with budding musician Rocksteady and three back-up singers. He later wowed with notable songs like “Free” and “True Love”, a song that drew some laughter from the singer who recalled his recent marriage to his heartthrob Anne Macaulay.
“I no search again, I don forget,” Tu Face said while the song played. His performance assumed a religious dimension when he started blessing the audience after his song, “See Me So”. He was later joined on stage by former Platashun Boy Faze.
Their rendition of their hits in the rested group brought a nostalgic aura to the setting. But this was just the beginning. Sound Sultan also made an appearance when he joined them on tracks like “Implication”, “Enter the Place” and “Orobo”.
The three of them on stage was a surprise on a evening when only Tu Face was billed to perform, but such surprises made the cold evening more bearable and closed the lineup of indigenous heavyweights for the night.
Other surprises for the night came from US group Bell Biv Devoe (BBD). Their display of so
Bobby Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins and Ronnie DeVoe (BBD)
much grace and endurance belied the fact that the trio has a combined age of 131 years. Almost 30 minutes of popular tracks like “Something in Your Eyes” and “Do Me” was mixed with a stage craft and choreography that earned applause from the audience.
Led by the silky voice of 44-year old lead vocalist Ricky Bell, they took the audience on a tour of their platinum-selling repertoire.
It ended with their nineties hit track “Poison”, an album credited with pioneering the New Jack Swing and opening the door for other R&B singers that followed in their footsteps. A mastery of genres like pop, rock, rhythm and blues was also apparent as the trio opened the stage for Bobby Brown.
Dressed in an all-white ensemble, the 43-year-old Brown had clearly seen better days. But the dark clouds of previous tragedies did not erode his intentions for the night. He was at the concert to wow the audience, just like he had done in Lagos, and would do in other cities where they would tour.
“We have been waiting 30 years to come to Nigeria and it is a country filled with beautiful people. This is our most important concert and whatever happens tonight, if you leave here thinking we do a good job, something is wrong with you. But we promise to come back and work harder,” he said.
The closing lines were the opener for his Good Enough album of the 90s. Songs like “My Prerogative” and the Ghostbusters soundtrack, which earned him the many accolades of a mixed career were delivered on the night as he tried to rekindle much of the lyrical promise he exuded in his heydays.
The night ended when he was joined on stage by the trio of Bell, Bivins and Devoe. Decked in Adidas tops sporting their Boston origins, they were a few men short, but they still managed to close the night with some of their evergreen tracks that were crooned by the audience.
With the 30th anniversary kicking off last year in New Orleans Louisiana, many are hoping the numerous tours the group has embarked on will birth another album that will follow their One Love of 2004.
For a group that almost achieved the success of the Jackson Five during the 80s, it might just be a matter of time.
PICS: Bobby Brown (8).jpg and Bobby BBD.jpg