By Pauline Hunt
Artist: Toni Braxton
Date / Venue: Thursday September 17th, 2015 - Logan Campbell Centre, Auckland
It's been a long time coming for the sensational Toni Braxton to grace these shores since entering the music scene in the 1990's, so her loyal fans were definitely in for a treat. Her early singing life began in the 80's when her and her younger sisters first formed their group ‘The Braxtons'. It was through singing with her sisters that Toni attracted the attention of LA Reid & Babyface, and was asked to record a demo of ‘Love Shoulda Brought You Home' for the soundtrack of Eddie Murphy's film ‘Boomerang'. It was from here that Toni was soon signed to ‘LaFace Records' and her music career took off.
To get us warmed up before Toni hit the stage was NZ singer Marino Mariner who currently has his debut single ‘Stronger' being played out on radio. After completing his set, there was a half an hour break to make way Toni's setup of her band. The audience was buzzing and it was as if I could feel all of their energy and excitement. Not to mention that Logan Campbell Centre was a full house. After much anticipation, the moment everyone had been waiting for had arrived and the curtains had been pulled back. The band started the show off before Toni's backup singers who also happen to be her sisters Trina and Towanda entered the stage in their matching black dresses. Toni came onto the stage in fashion all dressed in white, opening her concert with her hit single ‘He Wasn't Man Enough For Me'.
Toni sung her most well known hits and the audience loved it. Performing ‘Love Shoulda Brought You Home' to‘You Mean The World To Me' to ‘Let It Flow' which she dedicated to the late Whitney Houston as it was a single on the soundtrack album ‘Waiting to Exhale' which Whitney starred in. Performing ‘Another Sad Love Song', Toni allowed 2 lucky VIP's to come on stage to help her sing the record. The lucky twosome got to belt out the tune and you could see on their faces that they were in disbelief that they were even on stage let alone get to sing with Toni herself. The audience loved it.
Toni continued to perform hits like ‘How Could An Angel Break My Heart', ‘Just Be A Man About It' and before performing ‘Breathe Again' she lets the audience know that someone had come back stage and told her that it is his and his wife's 17th anniversary. She starts to look for the couple in the crowd and instead of one, brings two lucky couples on stage. Toni starts talking to the couples about their relationship and then asking them to dance, which she then starts singing ‘Breathe Again'. Thanks the couples and continues on with one of her most well known record. In between performances, Toni would take little breaks. While doing so, she allows sister Trina to perform her single ‘Party Or Go Home', which got the audience amped up. Toni continues on with her concert allowing another lucky fan on stage, this time to sing with her, the part of Babyface on their single ‘Hurt You', which is from Babyface and Toni Braxton's Grammy winning album ‘Love, Marriage & Divorce'.
Before taking another break for a wardrobe change, Toni Braxton announces that it is her sister Towanda's birthday and has planned a surprise cake and gets everyone to sing Happy Birthday to her. You can definitely see that Braxton's are a close-knit family. Toni comes back out from her short break, this time adding a long flowing skirt to her outfit so she could perform her chart topping hit ‘Unbreak My Heart'. On an interview about her tour when she was in South Africa, Toni is quoted as saying that Unbreak My Heart was the hardest song for her to perform at her concerts, as she can't hear herself because the audience are singing along with her. Well, she was right. It was a choir in the venue as Toni performed her hit single.
Toni Braxton did not disappoint. As promised, her concert was an intimate show of all her greatest hits and definitely worth the wait all these years. Toni voice continues to be flawless and she is showing no signs of slowing down. Throughout the night, Toni would acknowledge NZ and would be reminding the audience how much she loves us. Toni's band was also on point, and it's always a breath of fresh air when an artist brings their band and playing live music. For those who were lucky enough to go, will know that it was definitely a night to remember and are reminded why, Toni Braxton is the ‘Queen of R&B'.