Boyz II Men/En Vogue in Concert
Friday, July 8, 2016
Special guest: H-Town
Songs performed: Knockin’ Da Boots (H-Town); My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It), Whatta Man, Giving Him Something He Can Feel, Deju Vu, Don’t Let Go (Love), Medley: Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, Got to be Real, Bad Girls, Best of My Love, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Respect, Lady Marmalade, Tell Me Something Good, Proud Mary, Free Your Mind, Hold On (En Vogue); Motownphilly, On Bended Knee, Water Runs Dry, Uhh Ahh, Four Seasons of Loneliness; Medley: Thinking Out Loud, Let’s Get It On, Smells Like Teen Spirit; I’ll Make Love to You, A Song for Mama, End of the Road, Motownphilly (Reprise) (Boyz II Men)
Comments: Two R&B/pop vocal groups from the 1990’s are co-headlining a summer tour this year: Boyz II Men and En Vogue. Both started with 4 singers each, and now have 3 singers each. Their heydays may be behind them, but both acts showed that they have the hits and the vocals to still put on a great show.
The opening act was H-Town named after the city they were from: Houston, TX. They had a few minor hits on the R&B charts back in the 90’s, including a #1 song called “Knockin’ Da Boots.” One of the founding members died back in 2003, so the other 2 members have carried on without him. Their music was all pretty much bump and grind R&B. They even spilled water on their torsos and crotches, like it should be sexy or something. But it came off as more pathetic. At least they threw some teddy bears into the crowd and handed out some roses too. Their act pretty much sucked. And Shazam has a good voice too — too bad it’s on this material.
Next up was En Vogue, the all-female vocal trio. The group features founding members Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron-Braggs plus Rhona Bennett. Surprisingly the group never had a #1 single on the pop chart. But they had a couple of big #2 songs, and they started and ended their set with them. I was a big fan of this group back in the day. I got to see the original 4 on their “Funky Divas” tour, and then saw them as a trio as part of the Colors of Christmas concert.
The ladies are all in their 40’s and 50’s now, but they all looked good and sounded good. Wearing all black dresses, they sang their way through their hits, plus sang their new song “Déjà Vu” which they described as breezy R&B. They also did a big diva medley of the women/songs that inspired them: everyone from Diana Ross and the Supremes to Donna Summer to the Emotions and Tina Turner. I would have loved for them to sing more of the album cuts from their albums — but that didn’t happen. But the crowd was on their feet for most of their set — singing and dancing along.
Up next were Boyz II Men hailing from Philadelphia, PA. The group features founding members Wanya Morris, Nathan Morris and Shawn Stockman. The crowd was definitely excited to see them and I was glad to see them received so well. The 25 years they have been together have done them well. They are consummate showmen. They were dressed all in white, and still had the harmonies and vocals that made them famous.
They started and ended the show with their breakthrough hit “Motownphilly.” From there it was one big hit after the other — “End of the Road,” “Water Runs Dry,” I’ll Make Love to You” and more. Plus they had a covers section of their set also, but it seemed much more loose than the En Vogue one. They covered everyone from Ed Sheeran to Marvin Gaye to Nirvana. Nathan played guitar, while Shawn played bass during this segment.
Wanya was a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” this past year where he reached the Top 4. He relayed how much has changed in 25 years — you can gain a few pounds and lose your hair. Shawn said he loved the fact that he could sleep in his own bed that night, since he calls Los Angeles home.
The difference I see between the 2 headliners is that Boyz II Men never really went away, whereas with En Vogue there have been stops and starts with fighting over the name, breaks for family time, and years of not recording or touring. En Vogue has 5 albums to Boyz II Men’s 11. The Boyz didn’t sing any new songs in their set, unlike En Vogue who sang 1.
I was disappointed that they didn’t do any songs together. “One Sweet Day” would have been the perfect vehicle for them both — with En Vogue taking on the Mariah Carey vocals.
Overall, I had a great time. It was good to see real singers who didn’t need any special effects (other than fantastic vocals) to win over the audience. Thanks to everyone for a great evening out.
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 Real Men Wear Speedos lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.