Views on pop culture through my eyes

The BET Experience (Day 3)
Starring: R. Kelly, New Edition, the Jacksons
Sunday, June 30, 2013
Staples Center

Songs performed: Bump & Grind, Fiesta, When a Woman’s Fed Up, Ignition, I Believe I Can Fly, Step in the Name of Love (R. Kelly); If It Isn’t Love, You’re Not My Kind of Girl, Hit Me Off, Jealous Girl, Is This the End, Popcorn Love, Candy Girl, Mr. Telephone Man, My My My, Roni, When Will I See You Smile Again, Sensitivity, Can You Stand the Rain, Boys to Men, My Prerogative, Do Me/Poison (New Edition); Can You Feel It, Blame It on the Boogie, I Wanna Be Where You Are, Rock With You, Show You the Way to Go, Lovely One, I Want You Back/ABC/The Love You Save, Never Can Say Goodbye, All I Do Is Think Of You, I’ll Be There (the Jacksons)BET Experience

Comments: The LA Live Complex in downtown Los Angeles was the home of the inaugural BET Experience: a music, arts and cultural festival (plus awards show) that took over the Nokia Theatre, Club Nokia and the Staples Center.

The show time on the ticket was 7:00 PM; but the show didn’t start until 8:50 PM. Up first was R. Kelly.  Celebrating 25 years in the business, he was a favorite of many in the crowd that night. He was definitely the artist I was least familiar with on this evening. I know the big pop hits like “I Believe I Can Fly” and “I am Your Angel” but not too much of his R&B slow jams. So, I can’t say he made me a fan that night. His music is much more sexual than I realized. He was pretty foul-mouthed too when talking to the crowd. While some of his songs may not be my cup of tea, I appreciate that he is a good performer. Many of his songs were put into medleys in order to fit as many as possible into his set. I did hear his recent retro-inspired album ”Write Me Back” and enjoyed it. But that didn’t make the show. He saved my 2 favorites from him for the finales: “I Believe I Can Fly,” and “Step in the Name of Love.” I missed having the choir on “I Believe I Can Fly” but it is still a great song — it even won him a few Grammys.

The stage rotated around, and revealed the set-up for the next band. There was a DJ to warm up the crowd for New Edition. They came on in a few minutes. They were all dressed in tuxes. New Edition came out of Boston in the 1980’s — they were the “new edition” of the Jacksons. Would Bobby Brown be there? Turns out yes. He had to get a separate entrance, after the first number — “If It Isn’t Love.” They then took us through group and solo hits from the last 30 years (Bobby Brown, Ralph Tresvant and Johnny Gill solo songs, plus Bell Div Devoe songs too). They commented on how it was a honor to be on the same bill as their heroes — The Jacksons. The guys still have some good moves and vocal chops too. Bobby is lucky that he has the other guys to fill in his vocals (He was never the best vocalist in the group anyway). The too biggest surprises in their set were “When Will I See You Smile Again” with Ricky Bell on lead vocals for a BBD track and “Roni” from Bobby’s break-through “Don’t Be Cruel” album. I would definitely see them in their own show.

It was 11:15 PM by the time the Jacksons took the stage. The surviving members of the Jackson 5: Marlon, Tito, Jackie and Jermaine. They were decent actually, pretty good overall. But, there was something missing, and we all know it. No matter how hard they try, they can’t fill in for Michael. I felt a bit sad watching them, because I had seen them back in the day. And now here they were playing at the same place Michael was rehearsing for the “This Is It” shows and where they had his funeral. “Rock with You” was the only solo Michael number that was featured in their set. They even seem to have appropriated some of Michael’s moves in the show.

I question who arranged the order of the acts for the night. To me, it should have been the opposite of what it was. I would have put the Jacksons first, followed by New Edition and then R. Kelly. The Jacksons may have almost 50 years together, but to me they are rebuilding themselves as a foursome. They need to record some new music and not rely so heavily on the past. The crowd actually got smaller as the evening went on. Based on the audience, most people were there for R. Kelly. Some stayed for New Edition, others left. Even more left after New Edition, as well as during the Jacksons set (But that could have been due to the late show, and Monday being a work day for most). Don’t get why we had to wait 1 hour and 50 minutes for the show to start to begin with. And wouldn’t it have been cool for the acts to interact with one another? Imagine the Jacksons and New Edition doing “Dancing Machine” or all the acts at the end together for “Man in the Mirror.”

I am used to being at Staples Center shows with bigger production values. Some dancers, moving stages, pyrotechnics, etc. We got none of that on this night. Considering this was a one-off performance for all the acts, it was not surprising though.

Thanks to all for an enjoyable evening of urban entertainment. Hopefully the BET Experience producers will take notes on what worked and what didn’t and improve the weekend for next year’s version.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and  Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

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Comments on: "The BET Experience (Day 3)" (4)

  1. Marcelo Castilho Rogedo said:

    Nice article…I have to admit that I dont know the groups….But Jackson 5, they are unforgettable. I know who Jermaine is. Interesting to see that, you would change the way the performances were on stage….I cant imagine Jackson 5 without MJ…I have to admit it too. Well, I am sorry because this time I think I dont have a lot to say about this article…I dont know the artists as the same way you do. But I hope you had a great time!
    Take care, Daniel.

  2. guy.hubbard@att.net said:

    I didn’t know the Jacksons were performing live anywhere. I thought they were pass. Who sings lead on Michael’s songs? I can remember when each of those acts were the main feature in their own shows. They are all aging now. I wonder if they are still performing because they love it or are they doing it because they need the money. Maybe they have such egos they can’t give it up.

  3. guy.hubbard@att.net said:

    I think the Jacksons are past their prime. Unfortunately, for them, they did not perform much when Michael went solo. They should have continued, even if at smaller venues. I think the good life got to them and they could afford it without performing. I don’t think it occurred to them that the money could run out and affect their life styles. No doubt, their old records continue to sell but not in the numbers to afford the lifestyle they are currently used to having. Holmby Hills is expensive and that lifestyle is expensive to maintain. Michael’s impact is such that he continues to sell records from before he went solo and afterwards, as well. But how long can that last? And, I’m sure, in an ever decreasing volume.

  4. The Jacksons are past their prime… they can perform if they want to, but they should be doing smaller venues, on an oldies bill with Temptations, Four Tops, something like that. House of Blues, maybe Gibson. The brothers all took turns doing leads, with Marlon and Jermaine doing the most vocals.You have to wonder if the brothers need the money…

    R Kelly is the only one with a record contract these days.He headlined the Nokia Theatre last year, same for New Edition.

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