27 June 2014 (gig)
02 July 2014
Seeing a full New Edition tour (even of the latter day lineup) had been a fairly rare occurrence in their hometown. And not that the post-Bobby Brown edition of the band is not amazing , but when Brown returns to New Edition fold, it is almost a surreal experience.
So when the “sextet” version of New Edition (Brown, Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, and Ralph Tresvant) returned to their hometown of Boston (to be more exact, the band hails from Roxbury) at the Agganis Arena on Friday June 27, 2014, the expectations were very high (as the last time the band had performed with all six members in Massachusetts was on their “Home Again” tour in December of 1996 at the Worcester Centrum).
While the reunion of “all six” has been all the “hoopla” for this tour, it was strange the only time that the entire full members were onstage together was for the first number only.
That brief reunion led to the bands usual showcasing their solo careers. Bel Biv Devoe was first and revisited their New Jack Swing days with renditions of “Do Me” and “B.B.D. (I Thought It Was Me)?" A solo set from Brown was good, but tended to focus on his slower jams as “Good Enough” and “Roni,” only picking up steam on "On Our Own", from Ghostbusters II – while passing on better known cuts as a “My Prerogative” and “Every Little Step.” While Brown is not the onstage lothario he once was – he still managed a few pelvic thrusts and used the mic stand as a phallic symbol once.
Tresvant and Gill’s ventures catered mostly to the female audience. Tresvant could not seem to keep his shirt closed exposing his jacked six pack ads as much as possible while Gill tossed out a myriad of roses to his very vocal admirers.
After a brief intermission (where filmed tributes from Mary J Blidge, Gabrielle Union and other celebs sang the praises of new Edition. While it was a nice to her all the accolades, it felt misplaced at this point of the show and should have been screened at the beginning), the original quintet of the band (all members except Gill), came out (in matching sparkling red vests) as the overhead screen listed “1983” and they tore into their debut hit, “Candy Girl.” To say the moment was nostalgic would be an injustice as the onetime teen band (one would never call New Edition a boy band) commanded the stage and reminded all why they are still compared to legends as The Temptations and the Jackson 5. While Tresvant handles most of the leads, the sharing of vocals (as on “Mr. Telephone Man”) is akin to The Temptations, who also employed a similar sharing of lead vocals after David Ruffin left the group and Norman Whitfield became a principal songwriter.
After this amazing, but all short set, Brown left the stage while the year “1985” came on the screen and the band (now a quartet) went into other mid-80’s tracks as “Count Me Out” and “Cool it Now.” This left some scratching heads, as it was strange that Brown left during these songs, as he originally had sang on them in the studio.
The show’s climax came when the band, with Gill now back onstage, ended the show with an outstanding rendition of (Bel Biv Devoe‘s) “Poison” and “If It Isn’t Love.”
As the last song ended, the screen now listed a “#6” – but only the later day quintet lineup was there for the final bows, as Brown was MIA from the stage.
While it was a tab uneven of a homecoming, having New Edition back in Boston is still an uncommon treat.