By Pauline Hunt
Artist: Brian McKnight
Date / Venue: Thursday February 27th, ASB Theatre (Aotea Centre) Auckland
Who would've thought that when Brian McKnight first came to New Zealand he would grace us with his presence once again. Yet here he is, in our beautiful country performing all his well-known hits, this time round with a live band & special guest R&B star Tevin Campbell. Brian McKnight first hit the music scene in 1992 when he first signed with Mercury Records. His self-titled debut album was released & the top 20 single came from it, which was ‘One Last Cry'. Two more albums followed while being signed to Mercury, ‘I Remember You' in '95 and ‘Anytime' in 97, which sold over two million and nominated for a Grammy. In the year of 1998, McKnight signed with Motown Records and '99 released his most successful album to date‘Back At One' which went on to sell three million copies.
Opening for Brian McKnight was R&B star in his own right Tevin Campbell. R&B legend Quincy Jones was the one to introduce Tevin to the music world in 1989. His debut single ‘Tomorrow' reached number 1 on theBillboard Hip Hop/R&B charts in 1990 soon earning him a name for himself. There to warm up the audience was DJ Reminisce who at the end of his set, drops the intro for 'Back To The World' by Tevin Campbell from his first album before the man himself makes an appearance on stage & starts to perform his hit single from his third album, proving that his voice from the 90's hasn't gone anywhere. Next on list of hits 'I'm Ready', followed by 'Tell Me What You Want Me To Do' which is the debut single from his debut album, which was released in 1991. Before going on, Tevin starts talking about he's been doing with himself for the last couple of years, even mentioning that he lived in our neighbouring country Australia, followed by a loud series of boos from the audience. Not long before he had to make way for Mr McKnight, he performed the one song that everyone had been waiting to hear since coming on stage. 'Can We Talk' his most well known single from his second album & the song he is well know for.
To make way for the headliner, there was a short break in between to set up stage & to make sure everything was in tip top order for Brian McKnight. Not long til his band were on stage & start rocking on their instruments getting the audience all excited for what's about to come. Soon after his band introduced themselves through their instruments, the man we had been waiting for had made his way, & the audience loved it. As soon as he hit the first note, the room filled up with excited screams from all the females in the stadium, & knew it would be a night of taking us back & reminiscing. Performing his slow jams like 'Crazy Love', '6, 8, 12', 'Still In Love', 'The Only One For Me', there was not a single fan in the room that would not be singing along with Brian. Also worth mentioning & not one to forget anytime soon, was Brian's ‘full of energy' bass guitar player. Watching him was enough to make the audience sit up and take notice, he was having so much fun on the stage, that you couldn't help but have fun yourself. Even showed us that it was possible to do the helicopter while playing his bass at the same time.
He also performed hits to make us get up off our seats as well as interacting with the audience & giving us relationship advice, all while a lot of hip shaking was going on. Also gave us some insight to her personal life, & also one lucky lady, got to be serenaded by Brian McKnight while performing his single 'Another You' from his 2009 studio album 'Evolution Of A Man'. If there was ever any doubt whether or not Brian still had the voice as well as the smooth moves to make the ladies weak at the knees, this concert surely threw all those doubts out the window. Some of his most recent singles 'Fall 5.0' from 'Just Me' which was released in 2011 was also performed on the night. Brian McKnight showed the audience also how multi talented he was by performing 'One Last Cry' while playing the keyboard and allowing the audience to perform along with him as he did with most of his records from the night. Towards the end of show, just when you thought that he was done with the night & disappearing from the stage, you could hear the screams of encore echoing throughout the room. Listening to the cries, Brian then reappeared back on stage, to perform some more after leaving the audience unhappy and crying for more. Went to go on and belt out more hits including 'Still', & 'My Kind Of Girl' etc, it felt like the night was never going to end as everyone was just having too much fun and not wanting to stop. But like all good things, they must come to end as did the concert where Brian McKnight and his band said their goodbyes. Audience happy and content with what they had just witnessed that night on what was probably going to be a concert they definitely going to forget anytime soon.
Brian McKnight proved that he is a timeless multi-talented performer with no chance of slowing down. His performances with his exceptional vocals made it sound like we were listening to his CD's as his tone & pitches were on point. The energy from his band as well as himself made you want to join him & the experience of his show all the more worth of going to it. Energy from the audience also did not fail as everyone was having the time of their life, and all you could feel all around was good vibes. Brian's band also contributed positively as they too, looked like they were enjoying themselves and having their own little party on stage. Brian McKnight had proved to his loyal fans and to the rest of the world that he could still perform and sing as if 20 or so years had passed by. Definitely a true performer and artist that looks after his talent and most probably one of the few that still have what it takes to be in this music world and not going to be in the category of a ‘has been'. What night to remember.