Category Archives: Rap/Pop

Chris Brown in Baltimore, MD

September 28, 2011

Originally published in The Baltimore Sun’s Midnight Sun

Before seeing Wednesday night’s F.A.M.E. tour at 1st  Mariner Arena, I wasn’t convinced Chris Brown’s talent was special  enough to warrant his continued, well, fame.  After seeing the mediocre  show, I remain unconvinced.  Brown has charisma and he can dance,  though I’m not prepared to say he can sing live.  But there are lots of  charismatic kids out there who can dance and lip sync/sing through auto  tune.  I mean, Kevin Fedderline can dance, and network programming is  93% Simon Cowell-produced singing competitions.   Surely, Cowell could find plenty of replacement for Brown where he to  bring his grumpy, tight-shirted routine to enough different cities.  In  fact, I’d venture a guess that Cowell and his record company fat cats  could find plenty of kids in Baltimore alone  with the charisma and talent to match a Chris Brown.

 

So why is Brown still famous in 2011?  Simply put, his label, Jive, and  the music industry sycophants making money off of the Chris Brown name  realize that it is easier to let the Chris Brown show continue than it  would be to go through the trial-and-error  process of finding another kid who could fill 2/3 of the 1st Mariner  Arena.  Despite his personal issues, he’s still a good enough bet.   Though the upper level was closed at Wednesday’s show due to slow sales,  Brown still has fans, mostly young women, who  show up and pay good money to swoon over his slow jams and bop around  to his pop hits.  As long as that is true, there will always be  songwriters, such as the 35 listed with co-writing credits for F.A.M.E.   and producers (15 different producers on 13 tracks)  willing to work with him.  Congratulations, America.  You have no one  to blame for Chris Brown but yourselves.

 

What were we talking about? Oh, yes, the show.  Brown took the stage at  9:15 atop a 2 story set shaped like a boom box. It was clear from the  start of set opener “Say It With Me” that Brown was either lip syncing a  good deal of his lyrics or had developed an  incredible robot voice.  Songs featuring  guest artists proved  problematic as well.  The difficulty of playing these songs for a live  audience was apparent when Busta Rhymes and Jordin Sparks’ videos  appeared during  “Look at Me Now” and “No Air” while Brown  sang duet with a canned recording.  Opener Tyga was the only performer  to take the stage with Brown, accompanying him for “Deuces Play.”

 

The show included 10 backup dancers, a live band, and a DJ who spun both  during the show and at interludes when Brown would leave the stage for  costume changes.  There was a surge amongst the crowd when Brown first  appeared, but as the set went on energy in  the arena waned, with many fans sitting for the slower songs in the  set.  To rally the flagging crowd, Brown said, “This ain’t no Bruce  Springsteen or Elton John concert.  We’re young!  Even if you’re old,  you’re young in here tonight.”  Actually, Chris, the  old foggies at Bruce Springsteen shows stand through sets twice as long  as your 90 minute set every night.  Brown claimed even the old could  feel young at his show; however,tonight, in trying to figure out why the  school-aged kids around me had spent money  to see such a lackluster show, I felt really, really old.  Then again,  judging by the lack of energy in the crowd and the way the arena cleared  out quickly after the glowstick-inspired closer “Beautiful People,” a  lot of the kids in the show were probably  wondering the same thing.

 

Set

“Say it With Me”

“I Can Transform Ya”

“Wall to Wall”

“Run It!”

“Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”

“Body to Body”

“No Bull$!tt”

“She Ain’t You”

“Oh My Love”

“Deuces Play”

“Look at Me Now”

“Throw it Away”

“Right Next 2U”

“Hearts All Over the World”

“I Want it all Back”

“No Air”

“Yeah 3x”

“Forever”

“Beautiful People”