By Q. McElroy
More than once Saturday night, Academy-Award winner Jamie Foxx said he was told that Chastain Park would be a laid-back crowd. But thanks to his wooing of the single ladies and his naturally comedic manner, the stylish group proved that rumor wrong even as tea candles, flower centerpieces and wine bottles dotted the amphitheater.
Foxx set the tone when he hit the stage about 8:45 p.m. decked in black leather pants and a red-and-black leather jacket that reminded us of Michael Jackson – and Eddie Murphy, circa “Raw.” And by the way, he was rapping. After joking about tossing the $2K jacket into the crowd (he said maybe on the next tour, when we’re out of the recession), he slowed things down by channeling baby making music by Luther Vandross, Marvin Gaye, Prince – and even a snippet of the Eurhythmics “Sweet Dreams.”
He reenergized when he morphed into his award-winning performance of Ray Charles. Dressed in a teal blazer, he sang “Georgia on My Mind” at the piano and then went into upbeat songs that got nearly everyone out of their seats and doing the soul clap (or at least trying). Whether doing Ray’s songs or his own tracks like “Digital Girl”, it was extremely apparent that he has some of the sexiest backup dancers in the game.
While the DJ kept the party going in intermission playing Beyonce and Atlanta artists Soulja Boy and Gucci Mane, Foxx re-emerged in a white suit. He told the crowd that he had to put some clothes on and act his age. He asked, “Is it OK for me to sing to you tonight? I want to romance you tonight.” Apparently the ladies wanted it too, because my ears are still ringing from the screams.
But even when setting the scene for, um, romantic interludes (think incense, white zinfandel and the like), it was hard to not laugh sometimes – even for Foxx. This mixed imagery continued when Foxx did an open call to, guess who, the ladies for a slow dance contest. Against security’s better judgment, dozens of women headed to the stage (the “Black Playboy Jazz Fest” as he put it). Peppered with ongoing jokes and commentary by Foxx, only a handful got to perform before the winner was chosen.
Marsha Ambrosius (of former duo Floetry) kept the flirty-fun vibe going. Donning a short black maxi dress and short curly bob, she sang “Freak’in Me” with Foxx and then did Floetry’s signature hit “Say Yes,” which she wrote. The following MJ intermission got the active crowd back on its feet. With Foxx back on stage putting the moves on the ladies in gray slacks, vest and a lavender button down, he was ready to do some signature Michael Jackson dances, and so was everybody else. He then easily had everyone 2-stepping — with or without dates. By the time the show was over, it was hard not to notice the flip-flops and even socks walking out of the park (Note to the ladies: Leave the 4-inchers at home when going to Chastain.)
Atlanta’s own Keri Hilson then joined him, channeling those independent women again with her dance hit “Turning Me On.” As Foxx put it, “I need a woman who can cook, make love and check email at the same time” (good luck with that).
He ripped through more songs (”She Got Her Own” and “Just Like Me”) from his “Intuition” CD, which he continually plugged through the show.
Foxx ended the show with his mega-hit “Blame It.” In white jeans, white aviator jacket and a No. 7 Falcons jersey (he didn’t mention it, so we won’t either). But I must say that the finale seemed a bit weak and unplanned. While he and the live band did a strong rock rendition to “Blame It” — Foxx even donned a white electric guitar — it felt a bit anticlimactic because there was no definite finale (someone wondered aloud if this had something to do with Hilson’s seemingly surprise visit and Chastain’s strict 11p cutoff … I’m not so sure).
Overall, this tour is unlike his half comedy/half music tour a couple years back (which I caught at the Fox Theater) in that he’s going for a more mature, love-music vibe. But it’s apparent that no matter what, Foxx is one of the hardest working performers in the industry – I always feel as if the price paid is worth every penny.
Check him out for yourself. He has another show at Chastain tonight at 8p. Tickets are still available.