Atlanta was the second stop on the 16 city “Sexy Soul” tour featuring Eric Benet, with Mint Condition and Ledisi. It was Saturday night at the Fox Theatre and it was Halloween, which meant at least one couple showed up in costume (he was a pimp, she was something in red). The show, which runs in other cities through December, was an interesting mix of Tricks and Treats.
Trick: Surprise! Ledisi took the stage first. I expected to see Mint Condition, if for no other reason than Ledisi has received more critical acclaim (more on this later). The energetic singer performed songs from her new album “Turn Me Loose,” kicking things off with “Knockin” before moving into her personal favorite and title song “Turn Me Loose.”
Treat: Ledisi fans that are familiar with her first two albums and have accepted her classification as a jazz singer will hear remarkable growth. She’s evolving as an artist and her range can’t be denied. Performance wise, watching her do a James Brown shuffle across the stage was one of the highlights of the evening. She wrapped things up with her 2007 hit “In The Morning.”
Treat: Anyone who has followed Mint Condition over the past 20 years has either referred to them or heard them referred to as “the most underrated band in R&B.” It is true this group of old school musicians (minus keyboardist Keri Lewis who moved on), never seems to have gotten their due, so seeing them perform is always a treat, as was their Michael Jackson tribute (“Heartbreak Hotel” – love that song).
Trick: In addition the new-ish “Nothing Left to Say,” Mint Condition performed old favorites including “You Send Me Swinging” and “So Fine,” saving the hits “What Kind of Man Would I Be” and “Pretty Brown Eyes,” for last. But this was the SEXY soul tour, and how could a group known for their ballads NOT hit us with their very best ones? “Forever In Your Eyes,” “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More,” and “If You Love Me,” were all missing from the lineup. That was a seriously cruel trick.
Treat: Eric Benet in jeans, blazer, black vest and shades is treat enough given the ear-splitting screams from the double X chromosomes in the audience. But he really brought them to their feet with “Chocolate Legs,” from his new album “Love & Life”. He said the song was about escaping from the crazy world, his way of getting (ahem) “recharged.” The performance left one very excited audience member yelling “Godiva!” at the top of her lungs. Really.
Trick: Benet claims he doesn’t know a lick of Spanish, but he could have tricked us into calling him Papi with his performance of “Spanish Fly,” a Latin-esque groove from his new album. After “I Wanna Be Loved” and “Spend My Life With You,” Benet came back with an encore performance of “Georgy Porgy.” But wait! It was only 11:00 pm. He didn’t start until 10:30 p.m. Was it really over so soon?
In the end “Sexy Soul” was 3 for 3 in Tricks and Treats. Maybe Ledisi summed it up best during her set. “You can’t please everybody, but you do your best,” she said.