*At some point during a Charlie Wilson show you will no doubt find yourself declaring, “Now this is what showmanship looks like!” And even days later, with the music still in your head, you will be like, “I want to do that again!” Wilson brought his ‘Forever Charlie’ tour to Los Angeles’ Nokia Theater for a 2-night engagement with romantic crooners Joe and KEM and folks are still talking about it
Showing no signs of weary, the 62-year-old former member of The Gap Band struts, jumps, sings and dances during his nearly two-hour performance. It was indeed a sight to behold.
This was a night for lovers. And it started with Joe, the handsome R&B/soul singer who made many women swoon with his hits ‘All the Things (Your Man Won’t Do’) and ‘I Wanna Know.’ It’s been a while since audiences have seen the singer, and they let him know that he was missed. With no unnecessary flair cluttering his performance, this man, who released his 11th studio album in June of 2014, had the women eating out of his hands. Simply by being him.
His performance presented a great segue to R&B singer KEM. a Detroit native who had fun with those who have seen his performance before especially. When he asked how did you ‘Find Your Way’ the name of his hit song, the response from the audience was, ‘Back in my life.’ Kem talked with his audience. Played with his audience, and even joked with his audience. Wearing a purple tux, at one point he told the audience, “Back in Detroit they call me high and tight!” telling the men in the audience, “You got to be special to wear a suit like this!”
KEM kept his fans in the groove with the strategic placement of songs like “Nobody” from his 2014 “Promise to Love” CD, which has been #1 on Urban AC charts for eight consecutive weeks and of course, “Why Would You Stay.” In a meet-and-greet before the show, KEM told members of the press, “This tour is a testament for R&B, for black music,” he said. “People love this music. People are leaving these shows full. We are giving them a night to remember from beginning to the end.”
Wilson marched across the stage as the ‘Party Train’ conductor declaring the famous, ‘All aboard!’ before disappearing and re-emerging again to start the show. He made it clear that he still had what it takes to pull in a crowd. A fact also made perfectly clear by the additional night that was added on to the show (and even it was sold out!)
Not too shabby for a man who performed at only small clubs after the Gap Band’s demise. And no one is more surprised than Wilson, who told the media doing big concerts again is an amazing feeling.
“I always wanted to do arenas again, but I never thought I would be doing it this fast and this big,” Wilson said following the show.
Wilson, who told Billboard shortly before the ‘Forever Charlie’ tour started, “There are going to be a lot of babies made from this tour,” took the audience — filled to the brim with old school, new school and everybody in between — back to his Gap Band days. He let us know whether early in the morning, in the middle of the day, (or) late at night – everything was gonna be alright! I don’t believe people did much sitting during his set. It was clear he came to party and everyone willingly obliged.
Four ride-or-die female dancers (scroll down to see them in action) who moved as if their lives depended on it (and clearly enjoyed the experience!) accompanied Wilson, who seamlessly danced along; and started the show with the Snoop Dogg/ Pharrell song “Beautiful” on which he was featured.
One of several poignant moments in Uncle Charlie’s performance was when he remembered his late, great, best friend, Roger Troutman, through the song, “I Wanna Be Your Man.” Troutman, a member of the band Zapp, whose life was taken in 1999.
Many hearts were touched by this remembrance of the fallen music legend, who blew audiences away with his vocoder work on the Zapp tune that Tupac Shakur made famous, “California Love.”
Using only his voice (no back up singers) Wilson took us through a treasure-trove of diverse music styles including the increible funky and upbeat R&B and soul grooves we recognize him for, the slow-burning love songs and even some gospel. It would be here that he would stop and talk to his audience, and ask those who felt ‘grateful’ to ‘get up out of your seat’.
As a survivor of prostate cancer, we know he is.
Wilson’s new music is on par with what we’ve come to expect from him. And he did an outstanding performance on “Birthday Dress” (listen to the record below)
And did I mention the light show?
Wow! Lights that extended beam-like above our heads, at one point illuminating and accentuating the beads in each of the outfits worn by Wilson and his dancers. Oh why try to describe it? Just take a look at this video.
Listen to Charlie Wilson sing, “Birthday Dress,” directly below. I even included the words in case you want to sing along. He killed this song at the concert! And then scroll down to see how you can pre-order his new book, ‘I Am Charlie Wilson
Charlie Wilson’s book, ‘I Am Charlie Wilson’ will be released on June 30, 2015. He and KEM will also appear in the Essence Festival 2015 lineup