A loyal, soggy, sold-out crowd did its best to withstand the rain for Friday night’s Budweiser Superfest at Chastain Park.
With a solid lineup of soulful testosterone, there seemed to be four very good reasons to endure the almost constant patter of rain (and umbrellas blocking fans view of the stage) — Raheem Devuaghn, Jaheim, KEM and Anthony Hamilton. Somehow, Chastain and tour promoters were able to fit all four performances into three and a half hours. (See photos here.)
Devaughn, who opened the show, has a mighty arsenal of melodies that were cheated not just by the rain, but by the hurried evening. If you blinked or stopped to open your bottle of wine, it’s likely you missed the naughty “B.O.B” or the cover “Love & Happiness.” If you were lucky, you got the chance to jam with him on “I Don’t Care.” If you were not-so lucky, you got a close-up glimpse of a bare-chested Devaughn singing in the stands. Someone with his vocal talent doesn’t need to shed his shirt to woo the ladies. Maybe he was hot, or just wet.
Next up was Jaheim. The 32-year-old from New Jersey, who has a voice that roars like a brave but harmless lion, not only kept his shirt on, but looked pretty classy in his retro blue suit. But he, too, rushed through his short set, barely getting out new hits “I Ain’t Leaving Without You” and “Finding My Way Back.” And he, too, came out in the drizzle to serenade fans. His cover of “Close the Door, was a sweet tribute to soul legend Teddy Pendergrass,” who died earlier this year. No time to sing much from his four other albums, it was time for the next act.
But even the heavens seemed to know the night belonged to singer -songwriter Kem, whose voice courts you as his words of romance lure you to fall in love with love. The only time the pouring skies let up much was during his 45-minute set of mellow soul and smooth jazz.
KEM, whose new album “Intimacy” was released just this week, has a way of crafting songs about love in unexpected, yet familiar ways. On Friday night, he shared with fans “Intimacy’s” personal journal about love, trust and commitment with tunes such as “You’re on My Mind,” “Share My Life” and “Why Would You Stay,” sure to become an anthem on forgiveness.
WIth an Al Jarreau-like voice, sexy guitar and saxophone solos by band members, Kem brought a certain maturity to the evening — with the exception of his brief moment standing on top of the piano shaking his “small, but high and tight” behind to “Find Your Way.” His words, not mine.
From there, he launched into Part 1 of the Chastain revival, praising God as his doctor, lawyer, friend.
“He’s brought me through too much to not get up here and testify a little bit.” Amen.
Part 2 of the revival would come later from Anthony Hamilton. Interestingly, headliner Hamilton is the only artist on the bill who doesn’t have a brand new album. Maybe that explains why he came onstage singing Drake’s “I’m Doing Me,” with vocoder and all.
Fortunately, he quickly pushed the hip-hop to the side for his own jaunty “Fallin’ In Love” from 2008’s “The Point of It All” CD. And with familiar tunes like 2003’s “Charlene” and “Comin’ From Where I’m From” along with “Can’t Let Go” from 2005’s “Ain’t Nobody Worryin,’” he had more than enough to satisfy the anticipation of drenched fans, who by now were getting a new heavy downpour of rain.
That should have been Hamilton’s cue to tighten up and use his time on stage more efficiently. Instead, he seem somewhat committed to doing the church-revival jam session complete with tambourines and foot stomping to “I don’t know what you came to do…” At other times, he didn’t seem to know what to sing next, with long pauses as he checked on the drenched crowd.
After he finally sang “Cool,” a relaxing tune that polishes Hamilton’s popular gritty soul sound, it was time to call it a night. Any other time, the crowd would have been begging for more. But there no protests or calls from dripping fans for an encore.
With that said, the appeal of this Budweiser tour is certainly the vocal strength of all four artists. Hopefully as the tour continues, they’ll figure out a way to aptly showcase each of the talented musicians