R. Kelly spoke eloquently when he said you cant have R&B without the R. - or, as he pronounces it, Ar-ra.
Kelly, the singer who seems to take music seduction to a more deliciously deviant extreme with each song he releases, brought his Double Up Tour to the Colonial Center Saturday night. And though hes far from a nostalgic act or a performer who is past his prime, Kellys show played like a greatest hits collection.
To do so, though, he had to perform medleys, thus he never engaged a song fully. And some were left out completely.
There were the hooks Kelly has made for others like Snoop Doggs Thats That, Fat Joes We Thuggin, Cassidys Hotel and Twistas So Sexy.
Dug from Kellys exhaustive 17-year career tomb included Fiesta, Thoia Thong, Snake and the club-appropriate Feelin on Your Booty, the latter of which inspired, lets say, slow dancing not appropriate for a prom.
Kelly gets more mileage out of material than probably any other performer because of his ingenious remixes. He performed the alternate versions of Ignition, Im a Flirt, Make it Rain and Im Love With a Stripper, the last was weighed down, unfortunately, by a simulated lap dance.
Kelly, who has the doo-rag-and-white T swagger of a rapper, was able to elevate his performance from club-floor spectacle to magnetic when he tossed the theatrics and just sang without accompaniment; his voice is charming and robust.
The a cappella snippets of Bump N Grind and Slow Dance exemplified what R. Kellys appeal is all about: No matter what hes singing about - backsides, believing he can fly and more backsides - he makes you feel and hear it (that is, if you can ease past the well-worn topics).
It didnt appear that Kelly was dismayed by his upcoming child pornography trial which begins May 9. He was engaging, though one person sitting nearby kept commenting on Kellys unkempt facial hair.
For the songs he didnt get to there was a video montage during a costume change. The one obvious complaint would be about the extended set dramatizations, which included a scene with a jungle motif. The dancers reminded me of Grace Jones in Conan the Barbarian. Not a good look.
The openers J. Holiday and Keyshia Cole, both of whom have R&B hits, were grossly overshadowed by Kelly. I recall thinking Cole looked awkward dancing, and not many will remember Holiday because his 7:30 p.m. start time meant a mostly empty arena.
But whats there to really to complain about, especially when Kelly left you wanting to hear more? Oh yeah, he didnt play Trapped in the Closet, the R&B opera with 20-something episodes and counting.
Thats probably an upcoming world tour to itself.
Reach Taylor at (803) 771-8362.