Saturday Night: Maze, Patti LaBelle, O'Jays, Babyface, etc. at Toyota Center
Like a good neighbor, we can always count on soul/funk band Maze and its front man, the eternally white-clad Frankie Beverly, to be here each summer. Cognizant of the fact that they are "living legends," as Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds humbly described them Saturday night, Maze always brings along three or four other acts of the same musical station -- and age -- to preface their get-down journey.
This year's notables included the already mentioned Babyface, Patti LaBelle The O'Jays and "Special Guest Tank" -- not a living legend (or a currently relevant star), but a nice filler-in for folks trailing into the venue.
While Ms. LaBelle offered a been-there-done-that performance, preferring instead to let her still-impressive vocal range and a video montage do the work while she more or less stood in place (more on that later), the male acts seemed determined to prove their virile athleticism, gray hair, potbellies and overactive sweat glands be damned.
Babyface started the trend, forgoing an expected sit-down-and-let-me-talk-to-you-girl performance for high-octane versions of "For the Cool in You," "Every Time I Close My Eyes," "I Only Wanna Be With You" and "Whip Appeal." Ever the maestro, however, he then opted to show off his accolades acquired behind the scenes with his own spin of his best-produced hits.
"I want to take you guys on a little journey," he said, having by now thrown off his Men In Black shades to match a perfectly tailored black suit. A musical reverie soon followed, starting with 1988's "The Deal." A pelvis-thrusting "Every Little Step" follow-up would've made Bobby Brown proud.
He then brought younger brother and After 7 founder Kevon Edmonds onstage and until the end to help him out with Tevin Campbell's "Can We Talk" -- 1993's prelude to Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend" -- as well as to assist him in some lascivious dance moves you wouldn't normally expect from the poised producer.
Babyface even let Tank have another stab at fame alongside he and his brother with the Boyz II Men panty-jerking classic, "I'll Make Love to You," complete with a finalizing victory lap around the floor seats.