R. Kelly's Single Ladies Tour: Realer Than Swag in Miami, October 21
Single Ladies Tour
James L. Knight Center, Miami
Sunday, October 21, 2012
: A night at the strip club.
From The-Dream to Trey Songz, an entire generation of R&B stars have found fame retracing R. Kelly's
footsteps. But it's doubtful that any of his acolytes could pull off a
show as virtuosic, multi-faceted and thoroughly entertaining as last
night's Single Ladies tour stop at James L. Knight Center.
Kelly allowed few dull moments in a two-hour set that packed in
something like 70 songs, and he sounded flawless scoring some of the
show's biggest highlights with a cappella versions of songs like "Real
Talk." Hell, he even sang opera--convincingly, too. "Opera is what
allows my voice to be able to sing for y'all ass for two hours on this
stage," he said, shouting out his vocal coach.
Following support from opener Tamia, Kelly emerged atop a stairwell at
the center of an elaborate, gleaming white, cocktail bar-themed set. A
pair of suited bartenders manned actual bars on either side of the
stage, while groups of women idled on stools. Wearing a suit so white it
left him glowing (literally--it was nearly impossible to take a photo
from the crowd that didn't leave Kelly looking like a ghostly blur), he
descended the stairs to the sounds of his classic come-on tune, "Your
Body's Calling Me."
He hardly touched his latest efforts, the suave throwback soul albums
Love Letter and Write Me Back, dipping more deeply into his 12 Play
("Bump N Grind," "It Seems Like You're Ready") and TP2 ("Fiesta,"
"Feelin on Yo Booty") eras. Kelly took a number of breaks from singing
during his set but these reprieves actually advanced the show's
momentum, if anything. He reclined in a throne while judging entrants in
what he described as a "worldwide slow windin' contest," and encouraged
audience participation (quipping "I wanna give you more than your
money's worth, is that alright?") with a segment he dubbed "Kells
In what was certainly the evening's strangest moment, stagehands dressed
as doctors in lab coats brought out a cage into which Kells eventually
plied a female crowd member--but not before getting her to sign some
sort of release form onstage. What followed was bizarre theater of the
mind that saw her chained to the cage, which began to rock wildly after
Kelly wisely saved his his most uplifting material for last, turning "I
Wish," one of the more heartfelt songs in his catalog ("This is realer
than swag," he offered) into a sermon-like monologue on loss and hope,
and peaking vocally with a powerful rendition of "I Believe I Can Fly."
When it appeared that he was closing with Love Letter's "When a Woman
Loves," Kelly suggested that the already parting crowd needed "better
walk out music." "Step In The Name of Love" was just that, prompting a
healthy percentage of early departners to dance their way out of the
You can fault Robert Kelly for a lot of things, but his ability to entertain is not one of them.
: Mostly single women, of course--and of just about every age, too.
From the Crowd
: "I wanna be in that cage!"
: Can't say for sure, but it's possible I was the only person who arrived and left this show on foot.