Disappointed, I poked my bottom lip out and pouted mostly inwardly, but as buzz-worthy R&B singer John Michael and world soul music siren by way of Ethiopia Wayna took to the stage and performed, I was swept up into a musical movement that could take my mood no place else but up.
Noel was last to perform, and he opened up his set with “Brand New (Fresh)” to get the crowd grooving before introducing “Heaven Knows,” the lead single from his upcoming album out later this year. To the crowd, Noel presented himself like a wholesome guy who lives for the moments when he can cut loose and give himself permission to be bad. “Everyone raise their drinks and let’s toast to life and all the folks in here gettin’ lucky tonight. Lord knows I hope I do!” As he performed the steamy “Summertime,” I readied myself for him to do a “Miguel” onstage, but the talented vocalist was content to keep his sex play confined to some intensely syncopated hip thrusts and suggestive mic work. “I don’t have no childrens yet, but I’m practicing, ya dig?”
Gourdin soon teased the audience as he performed some of Usher’s “Nice and Slow.” Things got a little sexier as he confessed, “I’m 80 percent have sex, 20 percent make love, and 100 percent raunchy. That’s 200 percent I know, but I’m on a different scale.” Following the climactic performance of his Top 10 Billboard hit and self-proclaimed apology to women, “Beautiful,” Noel continued to bring the heat with the steamy “Wanna Get Close” and – taking us to the beginning of a musical journey that shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon – closed out his set with “Down By The River.” After the show, I made my way upstairs for a meet and greet with Noel and got the perfect cap off to a great show: a warm hug, a great pic, and a few bars of “Don’t You Wanna” – the Love and Hip Hop Atlanta song I’ll be singing for the rest of summer, if not longer.