Opening acts on tour sometimes suffer from the fact that crowds are visibly distracted during their sets, often times arriving late and chit-chatting with their friends as the artist tries to do their thing. This most certainly was NOT the case for last week’s show at the Beacon Theater here in New York City that featured Chrisette Michele and Keyshia Cole performing together. Both are fully capable of being headline performers, and the crowd definitely treated each artist as such when they performed together on Thursday night.
Chrisette took the stage first and proved to be a lovely spring vision with her white skinny jeans, white top and sky blue cropped-at-the-waist blazer. And those shoes. Those beautiful stiletto silver-glitter shoes. Her four-piece band and two backup singers created the perfect pocket for her vocals as she crooned “Ashton Martin Music”, “Your Fair Lady” and “Blame It On Me.” As the audience collectively bobbed our bodies to her amped up rendition of “Your Fair Lady,” a young lady in the row behind me (who I soon found out has a nice set of pipes of her own when she “accompanied” Keyshia on several songs) said, “She can sing!”
As the end of her half-hour set came to a close, Chrisette invited all the “grown and sexy” folks in the audience to “make some noise!!” as she introduced the first single off her upcoming album due out this summer, A Couple of Forevers. As she wrapped her set, the entire audience nodded in mutual appreciation of this talented artist whose creativity continues to evolve, impress, and gain her more and more fans.
I thought Keyshia Cole would be up next, but before she hit the stage, we were all treated to a DJ set intended to turn the energy in the building up to ten with a musical medley of hip shakers – “Candy” (Cameo), “It Takes Two” (Rob Base), “Top Billin'” (Audio Two), “Get Money” (Notorious BIG), and “The Bridge Is Over” (KRS-1). After a few tracks, the brownstone-laden backdrop dropped and Keyshia made her way onto the stage. The crowd, mixed with a noticeable mix of people that included guys who have become fans of Keyshia as much for her vocal stylings as her penchant for kicking it back and always keeping it real, rose to their feet as she started off with “Should’ve Let You Go” and “I Changed My Mind.” She dug in her high heels and asked the crowd if they “were ready to have a good time tonight?!!” and they responded by staying on their feet for the remainder of her one-hour set.
Whereas Chrisette was all about the band, Keyshia took it over the top with her stage setup—an elaborate two-story design meant to represent the inside of a house, particularly the intimate setting of a bedroom. She explained the meaning of the set and set the record clear by saying, “I don’t try to hide nothing from no one. I am who I am.” Backed by four dancers and four DJs onstage, Keyshia sang several cuts off her latest album, Woman To Woman, and kept the crowd on their toes by dipping into the “Cole archives” for fan faves like “Over and Over” and “Give It All To Me.”
As she belted out musical mantras and crowd favorites “Should Have Cheated”, “Woman To Woman” (for which she brought someone onstage from the audience to “go there” with her), and “Trust And Believe” the crowd sang along with her in tribute and in thanks. Keyshia thanked the crowd for “going there” with her with a shout-out and a closing song, addressing the audience for the last time for the night with a heartfelt acknowledgement that went a little something like, “I always get emotional when I come to New York. New York always does it to me!”
[Photo: Getty Images]