By RASHIDA RAWLS
Foreign Exchange kicked off its Authenticity Tour Wednesday night at Masquerade in Atlanta.
After opening with “Connected”, one half of the duo, Phonte, told fans that he was fighting a 104 degree fever and was high on medicine. But that didn’t stop him from belting out each song with strength and beauty. While the other half, Nicolay, kept his eyes closed his body began to move fluidly as if the music had entered his toes, traveled through his neck and exited through is head.
The FE live band included Zo! bopping on keyboards, (reminiscent of a cool high school band teacher), with singers Sy Smith and Jeanne Jolly holding down the background.
“We are an equal opportunity employer,” Phonte said, referring to the multicultural band, which received cheers from its diverse audience.
“All or Nothing” had folks wiggling, and with introductions out of the way, the band dug into tracks from Zo! and Sy Smith, whose velvety voice sounded like a young Eartha Kitt. All that was missing was a purr.
Phonte’s soliloquy during “Ball and Chain” segued into “Don’t Wait,” and insightful tune about love and the dos and don’ts of relationships.
“It’s so confusing,” Phonte said of “real love” and “cyber dating.” He said with online, you don’t know what you’re really going to get. He encouraged fans to look around the room and speak to each other because their mate could be right there at the FE concert.
“The music you listen to is a reflection of how you see the world, and how you see yourself,” he said.
Phonte explained how the best surgeons want the best equipment, musicians and lovers of music should want the best as well.
“Only in music are you looked down on for wanting the best”, half of the Grammy-nominated duo said. “Expect better and you’ll get better.”
“Take Off the Blues” had everyone dancing and grooving as the band blended Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat” into the song. But it was “Daykeeper” that sent the audience into frenzy.
After asking how many folks believed in the power of dreams, the band ended the night with a church-like twist to “Dream of Me.” For an encore they offered “God is Laughing at Your Plans and “I Wanna Know,” which had couples twirling and single folks dancing with imaginary partners.