Monday, January 3, 2011


Photos by Natasha Atkins

Opening act and reality show star Kandi opening her set with four background singers who were subs of her former 90s group Xscape. Her 30 minute set contained snippets from Xscape songs and her new CD, "Kandi Koated."

R&B heartthrob Eric Benet was all dapper
during his 30 minute set.

Benet had the ladies swooning and stretching their hands near the stage as he sang in perfect voice his various hits from "Love Don't Love Me" to "You're the Only One ."

Fantasia in one of her first wardrobes during the beginning of her 90 minute set , a white ensem with tux jacket, body suit and leggings. She started her set with a jazzy version of her hit 2005 hit "I'm Not Gonna Beg U."

She quickly had taken off the tux (and her heels soon followed). During this portion of the show she sang her big hit, "Free Yourself," and "Man of the House."

During this section of her show, she performed her latest hit, "I'm Doin Me."

Fantasia's next wardrobe change was of a flapper girl in her Velva Williams persona. During this section, she sang, "Collard Greens and Cornbread," and covers, "I Cant Stand the Rain," and Prince's "Kiss."

Another dress change during her set. During this portion, she performed, "Move on Me Baby," a blues ditty "Sardines and Pork N Beans," and a plethora of cover tunes including Aretha's "Rock Steady," Rufus and Chaka's "Tell Me Something Good," and Prince's "Purple rain."

She also got gospel testifying about her ordeal with married man Antoine Cook, her attempted suicide and her recovery ad performing "Thank you Lord."

After her last dress change, she performed her hit, "Bittersweet"

She also did a tribute to Teena Marie performing some for the late singer/musicians 1981 hit, "Square Biz."


Fantasia Wows Fox Crowd with Testifyin' Set

Kandi, Eric Benet were Solid Openers

In six short years, 2004 American idol winner Fantasia has become an international star. As a headliner of her first tour, "Back To Me," the transition from Idol stage and the Broadway stage, was as effortless a hummingbird's flight. And from the St. Louis crowd's reaction to 'Tasia by standing on its feet throughout most of her set, it was evident that she still has star power.

Performing at the Fox Theatre on New Year's Day (and the final stop of her tour), her set was a mixture of a funky Broadway production and a history lesson on the essence of soul music. Throughout, there were several vignettes screened during her wardrobe changes that were nice additions to her themed cabaret-styled set. Screened above stage, the grainy filmed vignettes chronicled the fictional blues singer called Velva Williams (played by Fantasia) and her rise to fame (the last vignette showed Williams telling her interviewer "F them" in regards to what she felt about her haters which was a commentary of Fantasia's naysayers of her recent relationship troubles) as well as a poignant tribute to the Black Power Movement (withher Afro and long sleeved unitard with vest and boots) and its influence on soul music and vice versa.

As far as her song selections, most of them were odes to her music heroes (Aretha, Chaka, Prince) singing covers including, "Rock Steady," Tell Me Something Good" and surprisingly, "Purple Rain" and "Kiss" in delicious "Tasia growl" and in her words, " I grew up on soul music...soul music has always been the soundtrack of life...I sing from my soul. Its not always pretty or;s for the soul of people."

Also noticeable was her amount of weight gain which, uncontested, was derived from stress from her now infamous relationship with a married man and subsequent suicide attempt which she addressed throughout her set ("It's been a hard year for me...I'm trying my best to move on. You cant tell it like I can tell it") which inspired her to sing an ad libbed spiritual , "Thank You Lord" amassed with emotion and fighting back "gettin happy."

She also did her hits "Free Yourself," "When I See You," "Im Doin Me" and her 2011 Grammy nominated, "Bittersweet" as well as popular album cuts from her CD, "Back to Me" (e.g."Collard Greens and Cornbread") Surprisingly, she did not sing songs that defined Fantasia including her "Idol" winning tune, "Believe," her first hit, "Truth is," and her Color Purple-themed "I'm Here" (even her "Idol" career making song, "Summertime" was only given a music interlude played by her band during her last wardrobe change).

Nevertheless, from the crowd's constant cheers (especially the women oddly enough) and standing on its feet throughout her set, they would have accepted her singing the phone book.

The highlight of many highlights of her set was when her ear piece malfunctioned she quipped, "I don't need it. I know I can sing." Her finale was her tribute to the late Teena Marie performing an impromptu chorus driven version of "Square Biz" as all of the members of her tour (minus Eric Benet) walked on stage and hugged her.

Mid liner Eric Benet had a somewhat rushed 30 minute set but he did not disappoint his female fans who stayed near the stage to get a handshake from the sex symbol. Dressed in a dapper tailored black suit, Benet, who also had a live band, was in perfect vocal range performing songs from his repertoire including snippets of "Love Dont Love me," "The Hunger," and his latest single, "Never Wanna Live Without You" from his CD, "Lost in Time."
The highlight was his singing uber falsetto pitched tune, "Sometimes I Cry" without vocal hesitation. He also gave his background singer Lea Labelle (who ironically enough was a finalist on "Idol" on the same season Fantasia had won) a chance to shine mainly on his hit duet "Spend My Life With You," his biggest charted single to date. He concluded with his hit cover of "Georgie Peorgie."

Opener Kandi, who has received a career second wind appearing on the second season of the popular "Real Housewives of Atlanta," (and predictably asked the crowd if they watch it) opened with an OK 30 minute set. Backed by recording tracks, a poster publicizing her latest CD, "Kandi Koated" and four background female dancers who were, in the singer's words, " they remind me of being in the group Xscape. I miss those days. I got my girls (here) for that."
Although her voice sounded a bit raspy, she still sounded lively on snippets during her Xscape days ("Just Kickin It", "My Little Secret") and tunes from her second CD.
The highlight was when she talked about the death of her ex-husband, AJ Jewell, and sang accapella the song,"Haven't Loved Right."


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