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November 30, 2004

Review Boyz II Men

St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MO):

There was never any real match for the '90s biggest and best R&B vocal group, Boyz II Men, and that remains true. In fact, the fellows themselves are no match for their former incarnation. Boyz II Men, which performed at the Ambassador Sunday night, has had it tough hanging on to past glories and seen more than its share of disappointments the past several years - from a lineup change to tumbling CD sales to a shifting down to second-tier status. Yet the group admirably and humbly moves on, adjusting to what has transpired.

What hasn't changed are the voices of Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris, which graced many a pop/R&B hit across the past decade. During the group's hourlong concert here, Boyz II Men easily reminded its fans of a recently bygone era of friendlier R&B, when it was OK for the music to not come off as thugged-out and hip-hop-heavy. And the trio managed the feat without benefit of a band (though wouldn't it have been great to hear those vocals laced with live music?) and without retired member Michael McCary, the group's deep bass voice. The trio, dressed in black leather sweatsuits, started it off with the song that started it off for them in 1991, its "Motownphilly," the group's sole dance-oriented hit. A solo Stockman then quickly thrilled with a series of riffs and runs that served as the intro to one of the band's biggest ballads and signature songs, "On Bended Knee."

A trio of cover songs allowed the group to showcase its latest CD, "Throwback," which features the Boyz putting the group's soulful spin on already-soulful tunes. Serving as easy sing-alongs for the crowd were the Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New," Hall and Oates' "Sara Smile" and Bobby Caldwell's "What You Won't Do for Love," with a rap by MC Lyte piped in. After saying, "Now that we got the 'Throwback' stuff out of the way," the group went back to its own classics, of which it has plenty, such as the acoustic-leaning "Water Runs Dry." During "I'll Make Love to You," the singers passed out roses to female fans. Concert-goers called their mothers during "A Song for Mama" and held their cell phones up in the air. A couple of phones made their way onstage, and the singers crooned into them. An a cappella verse of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" followed by "End of the Road" appropriately ended the concert.

Posted by acapnews at November 30, 2004 12:20 AM