Leave it to Robert Sylvester Kelly to tantalize the crowd with his musical foreplay. The King of R&B had the crowd, particularly the women (and quite noticeably lots of men), in a frenzy as he served up an electrifying performance early this morning at the National Stadium.
Thousands turned up to watch the R&B legend better known as R. Kelly perform and they were definitely not disappointed. Kelly might have cancelled his performance at Jamzone in August but yesterday gave patrons a show they will be talking about for the rest of their lives.
The Grammy award-winning singer, with over 22 years in the music industry, called on the ladies to make some noise as he was making his way onstage just before 2am. The ladies happily obliged. Their screams said it all; they were eager to see the singer. He emerged on stage under dim lights through heavy smoke, in a full black ensemble with a cigar in his hand.
Kelly channeled the spirit of entertainers of old such as James Brown and Marvin Gaye, while performing a medley of his greatest hits. From his raunchy ’12 play’ to his retro-soul ballad ‘When a woman loves’ that literally had one woman on her knees professing her love for the singer, Kelly belted out hit after hit casting a musical spell on the crowd. Even as he crooned, ‘Kellz’ as he often likes to call himself, asked the women in the crowd if they would like to go back to Chicago with him. He did not have to ask twice as he got a resounding, ‘yes’ from the crowd.
His hour-long performance had every woman in the show feeling as if the singer was singing to them alone. He teased, tantalized and serenaded them with his sultry voice. At one point in the show, the singer complained of feeling too hot and calmly knelt down at the stage front while calling on one of the women to dab his sweat. This invitation was enough to have all the women at the front clawing for the chance to wipe the sweat off the singer’s face.
The melodramatic rendition of ‘I believe I can fly’ was clearly the highlight of the night as everyone in the crowd started singing along. Kelly’s talent was on full display in this song. There was something humble and sincere about this particular performance, the singer showed what time and overcoming trials can produce.
After the singer churned out a few more of his hits, Kelly had everyone on their feet dancing as he ended the show with the crowd-pleasing ‘Step in the name of love.’ The singer thanked all of his Guyanese fans for supporting his career and said that he will definitely be returning for another show in the near future.
Prior to Kelly’s performance, Trinidad’s Kes the band opened the show to a favourable response from the crowd. Their performance was good but it was not great. Maybe if they had sung more of their songs, the crowd would have been more excited. Their 20-minute performance went by quickly and then it was time for Guyanese soca singer Jumo to show the crowd why he deserved the nickname ‘Rubber waist.’
During his performance, he invited one young woman from the audience who had caught his eye to show him how to do the ‘wine to the side.’ Although she was shy at first, the woman happily went up, and the two put on a show for the crowd, which ended up with the singer splitting his pants.
Jamaican Reggae group Morgan Heritage was next and the only negative critique about their performance was that it was too short. The crowd wanted more. Ten minutes was definitely not enough time for them to deliver all of the songs that their fans wanted to hear. In their brief time on stage however, they managed to sing some of their hits such as, ‘Don’t have to be dread to be Rasta’, ‘Down by the river’, ‘She’s still loving me’ and ‘Best friend’.
When lead singer, Peetah Morgan announced that the group only had a minute left on stage, the crowd erupted as they clearly wanted more from this talented family who delivered some good old reggae vibes. Many felt that the group was disrespected as they were given one of the shortest time slots of the night.
After the reggae group left the stage, MC Malcom Ferreira announced that there was a special artiste all the way from Brooklyn who would be gracing the stage. The silky vocals of a young woman blasted through the speakers and Ferreira asked the crowd to welcome Rkhty (pronounced Rahketee) to the stage. She was eager to please the crowd and give them a taste of her music, but maybe because no one had heard about her music, or her prior to her performance, the crowd was left clueless as to what she was really doing on the stage.
Trinidad’s crossover band Karma, headed by Ravi-B, did not live up to expectations as the crowd expected a more energized performance. The performances of Nesha and Ravi-B were a little too tame for the crowd, who were used to the over-the-top performances by the group.
Although many said that the show did not surpass that of Grammy-award winning artiste Ne-Yo, they said that Kelly did not disappoint.
The biggest downfall of the night was the traffic getting out of the show. It took patrons the same time it took Kelly to perform, one hour, to make their way out of the buildup. Maybe the next time, the promoters can put in place better measures for traffic to flow freely after the show has finished.