Review: Throat Problems Don't Stop Frankie Beverly

Review Throat Problems Dont Stop Frankie Beverly

CONCORD, Calif. — Frankie Beverly and Maze sang every song from start to finish, and that alone would have made Sunday's performance at the Chronicle Pavilion — which also featured Kevon Edmonds , K-Ci & JoJo and Gerald Levert — a good show.

Many performers ruin the climactic moment of their performance by giving the microphone to the audience when they sing their most famous hit — even though the audience paid or more to hear them sing it.

As Beverly sang such favorites as 'Joy and Pain' ( Joy and Pain, 1980), 'We Are One' ( RealAudio excerpt ) ( We Are One, 1983) and 'Can't Get Over You' ( Silky Soul, 1989), the singer didn't cheat concertgoers out of a single note, even though Beverly mentioned that he was recovering from throat problems during a break between songs.

But it was more that a good show — it was a great show. The bill was packed with veterans, who gave strong performances. The mature crowd, who filled the Pavilion parking lot with BMWs, Lexus sedans and sport-utility vehicles, danced in the aisles with complete abandon.

'This is one of the few shows that I have been to where people have just stood up for the entire show,' said 33-year-old Felisia Bailey of Hayward, Calif., who was with her husband, Anthony.

Like Bailey, most of the concertgoers were well past 20 and were part of a generation of music fans who love classic R&B, which was performed by Maze and Levert. But the crowd also embraced rap and the modern, hip-hop styled R&B Jodeci (K-Ci and JoJo's original band) represents. When Levert interrupted his set with the chorus from DMX 's 'Party Up,' the crowd knew all the words.

A Touch Of Past Glory

The multigenerational audience screamed when Levert sang his solo hits, such as 'Mr. Too Damn Good' ( G, 1999) and 'School Me' ( Private Line, 1991), but they expected him to dig into the trove of hits made famous by his father, Eddie Levert Sr. of the O'Jays .

Levert, a consummate showman, gave the audience that and more. His set included a full band, and backup singers dressed in elegant black sheaths. He did salsa steps and ground and danced onstage with twice the energy one would expect from a man with his trademark girth.

'Gerald always gives a good show,' 33-year-old Anthony Bailey said. 'He could have been the headliner.'

Levert's brother Sean Levert joined him onstage for a medley of songs from when the brothers were in the '80s R&B group Levert . They sang 'Casanova' ( Big Throwdown, 1987) and 'Baby I'm Ready' ( Rope a Dope Style, 1990), while well-manicured hands clawed for the roses and teddy bears that the brothers tossed into the crowd. They broke out in a Motown-style dance routine when they sung a brief set of O'Jays' hits.

'He's just like his daddy,' Tera Hankins of Antioch, Calif., said of Gerald Levert.

The Levert brothers were joined onstage by K-Ci & JoJo for an extended jam session of the O'Jays' hit 'For the Love of Money,' But earlier in the day, it seemed as if K-Ci might have to perform alone.

Almost A One-Man Show

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'I know y'all wondering where JoJo is,' drawled K-Ci, who told the audience that he was from North Carolina.

'He told me that he was gon' make it,' K-Ci said. 'Y'all just pray for him,' he said amid audience laughter.

The singer did well as a one-man-show. He brought the audience, who were lukewarm during Edmonds' set, to its feet as he sang 'Life,' the title cut from the 1999 movie soundtrack. He also sung a cover of 'If You Think You're Lonely Now,' from the 1994 'Jason's Lyric' movie soundtrack.

Jodeci are known as the raunchy predecessor of sexually explicit R&B groups, such as Next . On Sunday, K-Ci's performance was gospel-tinged soul reminiscent of the days when Al Green was a backsliding Baptist singing pop. K-Ci even got on the good foot, hopping James Brown -style across the stage.

JoJo appeared midset and joined his brother for a medley of Jodeci songs and other numbers the brothers have performed as a duo. They sang 'It's Real' ( It's Real, 1999), 'All My Life ( Love Always, 1997) and a few bars of songs from Jodeci's Diary of a Mad Band (1994). They ended the performance promising fans that Jodeci would be back in 2001.

The reception for opening act Edmonds, the After 7 member whose soaring voice made the group memorable, was muted, as most of the audience was fashionably late. When the crooner sang 'Can't Stop' — an early After 7 hit written and produced by L.A. Reid and Edmonds' brother Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmonds — and '24/7,' the title track from his 1999 debut solo LP, few people were there to applaud him.