Charlie Wilson, Erykah Badu & the O'Jays at The Woodlands, 5/31/2014
Magic 102.1 Under the Stars
Featuring Charlie Wilson, Erykah Badu & the O'Jays
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
May 31, 2014
On a night of classic and modern R&B at a packed house in The Woodlands, with perfect summer weather of clear skies and temperatures below the 80s, Majic 102.1's Under the Stars concert was a powerhouse lineup with more No. 1 hit songs than you can shake a 2014 Free Press Summer Fest at. It was a night of baby-making music where those who had made babies, along with the babies they made, were out to make even more babies.
The night's performances jump-started with a defibrillator-like zap with Rock & Roll Hall of Famers and Sound of Philadelphia alums the O'Jays. The classic vocal R&B trio -- dressed in matching white suits featuring jackets with exposed chests, satin frills, fringe at the wrists and sequins -- came with a full band, complete with horn section. They launched onstage with the vigor of acts one-third their age with the 1975 hit "Give the People What They Want."
Instead of hoping the band would play a particular song, the ready-to-party Saturday-night crowd ate up anything the O'Jays played by singing along to every last word. Only during the ballads did the group's energy diminish, giving the older folks a needed break.
During "Cry Together," the audience sang in harmony so well that a choir might as well have shown up to accompany the group onstage. At one point, distracted by a groupie at the edge of the stage, Eddie Levert lost his place and said, in his come-on tone of voice, "Damn, woman. You made me forget what I was trying to say," as he laughed and rubbed his thighs and chest is a sexy way. The O'Jays delivered much more than what might be expected from a band that's been around since 1958.
Next, Erykah Badu came to the stage with a force and aura matching the night's music-industry veteran acts, setting the mood with a nonstop set of soul, electronic funk and hits. Wearing a shawl featuring the eye in the dollar bill's pyramid over a torn T-shirt and several medallions dripping down her chest - plus a skirt, leggings, a top hat and white basketball shoes with long blue feathers stuffed into the back of one - she looked like an R&B version of Alice in Wonderland's the Mad Hatter.
Sometimes she would stop the entire band in mid-song to dramatic and sometimes comical effect. She paused the intro to "Window Seat" to hilariously eat "one chip and [have] one sip" of whatever was in her coffee cup, then cued her band to pick up where they left off. Though she said she hadn't played in a venue as large as The Woodlands in a long while, you couldn't tell from how she grooved and blew the multigenerational crowd away with reinterpreted songs old and new.
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