With the temperature consistently in the 90s all last week, I was ready to embrace a different kind of “hotness” by the time Saturday rolled around. The kind of hotness that didn’t require me sweating my brains out, but one that would stimulate my eyes, ears… You get my drift. Well, my wishes were granted in the form of Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank —collectively known these days as the R&B supergroup TGT—at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.
The trio performed to a sold-out crowd at NJPAC Saturday night as part of their 3 Kings Tour, and they most definitely brought the heat. Not only are they each successful solo artists in their own right, but they are also longtime friends who share a deep love for R&B music (not to mention their fans). At this show, fans got a chance to experience each artist in their solo splendor, capped off by a group TGT performance that was the perfect showcase of their appreciation for each other and the musical movement they’ve championed. And they appeared to have tons of fun putting on this show.
Ginuwine was first up to perform, and he got the crowd going with his trademark dance moves and steamy rendition of his hit song “Pony,” which introduced the singer to the world in 1996. The song was featured in the film Magic Mike and “Bad Girl” Rihanna just sampled it on her Unapologetic album, but Ginuwine took it there and turned it up as only he can, sliding off his white T-shirt and sliding his hand down his pants.
As the fans fanned themselves and tried to regain composure, Tank came onto the stage and opened up his solo set with his new single featuring Chris Brown, “Shots Fired.” Tank teased the audience as he crooned “Please Don’t Go” and added a little titillating ad lib for good measure that went a little something like this: “I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go. I really want to stay and take off all of my clothes.” As captivating a performer Ginuwine proves himself to be with his smooth vocal stylings and slick-with-it dance moves, Tank seems even more dynamic because he sings his ass off, and he can play a mean set of keys. He showed just how well as he graciously gave the audience a chance to recover from his playfully passionate performance by taking to the keyboard and stirring up hearts with “Heartbreaker” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” A definite theme of not just lust, but love started to crystallize for the night as Tank spoke candidly to the audience: “If no one’s told you in the last year, the last month, the last week or the last hour that they love you, let me be the one to tell you… I love you.”
By the time Tyrese took the stage and got into his “grown and sexy” vibe with “What’chu Like” (a 2000 Da Brat cut he featured on) and “Pullin’ Me Back” (his 2006 collabo with Chingy), it was love all the way around, in full effect. Tyrese told the audience several times, “I love you,” but he also made it clear that he wanted the love right back, which no one seemed to have a problem with. He teased the audience and got his sexy on with his performance of “Signs of Lovemaking” by threatening to “take off one piece of clothes at a time, if y’all don’t mind.” I don’t think they had enough security in the building to keep Tyrese safe if had he made good on that one, but he kept the ladies OOHing and AAHing as he performed “Sweet Lady” and handed out long-stemmed red roses to adoring fans. What no one probably expected was the moment of tribute to Trayvon Martin that Tyrese orchestrated by asking everyone to put their cell phones up in the air for the slain teenager. Then, to set the context for the second part of the show, Tyrese went into his song “Stay,” which he ended by infusing the R&B classic “Let’s Get It On” by Marvin Gaye.
The show concluded with Tyrese, Ginuwine and Tank ditching their all-white ensembles for slick all-black attire, taking the stage as the unified TGT. They seemed as if they were on a mission to disprove any notions that R&B music is anything other than alive and well. They asked the audience, “Are there any real R&B fans in the building tonight?” and then challenged them to prove it as they dug into the archives to resurrect the Jodeci classic “Freek’n You.” I couldn’t contain my laughter as Ginuwine playfully swirled furry red handcuffs around his wrist. As the trio sang Guy’s “Piece of My Love” and Mary J. Blige’s “I’m Going Down,” the guys transitioned from sexy soul singers to fans of R&B music, just like the rest of us. They even took a moment to shout out the late Gerald Levert, a pioneer of R&B music and member of not one but two supergroups (LeVert and LSG). For all who attended Saturday’s performance, it was quite clear as TGT performed the lead single off their soon-to-be-released Three Kings album, “Sex Never Felt Better” (video above) that the members of TGT are true fans of R&B music, fans of their fans, and fans of each other. All love, all the way around.
[Photo: Getty Images]