Meniscus tear or not, when Morris Day and The Time’s “Jungle Love” blasted through the speakers of Anthony Hamilton’s meet n’ greet, his scarf went flying and two-stepping commenced. From early 20s to 50s and 60s, Hamilton’s fans of all ages greeted him with warm hugs, handshakes and wide smiles. He returned every last one of the greetings fresh out of a wheelchair from surgery on Monday.
From thigh-high dresses and suits to hoodies and jeans, the crowd rocked to songs from Dazz Band, Stevie Wonder and plenty more soul to get the party started with the exclusive 100-plus group before the concert started by 8 p.m., on Sat., April 23, at the Arie Crown Theatre.
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Chicago’s own Kevin “Damn Fool” Simpson opened the show promptly at 8 p.m., and from the time he started until the time he left, he had the crowd in stitches, joking about everything from why he pays the school bully to beat up his son to what it’s like dating in his 30s. The well-earned applause after he was done led to even more excitement when Fantasia’s background singers appeared and proved there would absolutely be no lip synching that night.
America knows Fantasia as the third season winner of “American Idol.” She’s gone on to release four studio albums and perform on Broadway. Her fifth album, “The Definition Of,” is set to release on June 10.
Hamilton is now on his ninth album and has been on the music scene since the mid-’90s, with Billboard chart-topping singles like “Charlene,” “Can’t Let Go,” “Pray for Me,” “Woo” and “The Point of it All.”
The two soul powerhouses teaming up together seemed like a given. Both hardcore fans of Prince, they brought as much funk to their show as they did traditional R&B soul.
Fantasia got her fans up on their feet for her hits like “Without Me,” “I’m Doin’ Me,” “Bittersweet,” “Truth Is,” “Ain’t Gone Beg You” and “Free Yourself,” along with crowd favorites from Tina Turner, Whitney Houston and Prince. By the time the bass dropped to give the audience a sneak peek of one of her newest songs, she’d made sure the crowd let loose and stopped “acting cute.”
Even with glitter bodysuits and silky head-to-toe jackets, Fantasia bounced around like she was wearing a tanktop and jean shorts. Hair shaven low on one side and curls cascading down the other side of her face, she still maintained her reputation of not being afraid to sweat a good hairstyle out. She took the packed crowd to soul class, funk school and then straight to church before she walked into the crowd to look into the eyes of her husband. Miraculously, she kept her shoes on the whole time, something she (and Patti LaBelle) are notorious for ditching.
Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Up next came Hamilton. While Hamilton’s music is known for its blend of laid-back soul and blues, his stage tips from D’Angelo were clearly in session. When he wasn’t strolling around with a fashionable black crutch or sitting on a stool to rest his leg, he was back up and at it, dancing with the crowd, strolling offstage and doing his own version of the two step.
Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn
Even on the slower ballads, women were waving his latest album “What I’m Feeling” in the air, hips jerking from left to right with hands raised. Somewhere between twerking and the Holy Ghost, he knew exactly which songs would get the reaction he wanted. And with a charismatic smile on his face, he played to both the ballad lovers and dancers. At one point, couples were in the middle of the aisle showing off Chicago stepping while he coached them on.
He paid tribute to R&B oldies but goodies from The Dells (“A Heart Is a House for Love”) and Prince, in addition to some crowd favorites, “Comin’ From Where I’m From,” “Diamond in the Rough,” “Soul’s on Fire,” “I’m a Mess,” “Still,” “The Point of It All” and “Charlene.”
As hundreds scattered out of the theater after over 3.5 hours of entertainment, they buzzed about their favorite songs, buying both Fantasia’s and Hamilton’s newest albums, and a few started their own impromptu renditions of the songs. Soul wins. Amen.
This concert review has been republished from its original source at Sun Times Network: http://bit.ly/1rsJQ4A
Video: "Anthony Hamilton, Fantasia at Arie Crown on April 23, 2016" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IVMYnCCtJ_I
Fantasia’s fifth album, “The Definition Of,” is set to release on June 10. Hamilton’s fifth album, “What I’m Feelin’” is in stores now. For future tour dates, visit http://anthonyhamilton.com/home/ for details.