Before seeing Wednesday night’s F.A.M.E. tour at 1st Mariner Arena, I wasn’t convinced Chris Brown’s talent was special enough to warrant his continued, well, fame. After seeing the mediocre show, I remain unconvinced.
Brown has charisma and he can dance, though I’m not prepared to say he can sing live. But there are lots of charismatic kids out there who can dance and lipsync and auto-tune. Kevin Federline can dance, for instance, and network programming is 93% Simon Cowell-produced singing competitions. In fact, I’d venture a guess that Cowell and his record company fat cats could find plenty of kids in Baltimore alone with the charisma and talent to match a Chris Brown.
Though the upper level was closed at Wednesday’s show, Brown still has fans, mostly young women, who show up and pay good money to swoon over his slow jams and bop around to his pop hits. As long as that is true, there will always be songwriters (30 plus in thirty-some "F.A.M.E.") and producers willing to work with him. Congratulations, America. You have no one to blame for Chris Brown but yourselves.
What were we talking about? Oh, yes, the show. Brown took the stage at 9:15 atop a two-story set shaped like a boom box. It was clear from the start of set opener “Say It With Me” that Brown was either lip syncing a good deal of his lyrics or had developed an incredible robot voice. Songs featuring guest artists proved problematic as well. The difficulty of playing these songs for a live audience was apparent when Busta Rhymes and Jordin Sparks’ videos appeared during “Look at Me Now” and “No Air” while Brown sang duet with a canned recording. Opener Tyga was the only performer to take the stage with Brown, accompanying him for “Deuces Play.”
The show included 10 backup dancers, a live band, and a DJ who spun both during the show and at interludes when Brown would leave the stage for costume changes. There was a surge amongst the crowd when Brown first appeared, but as the set went on energy in the arena waned, with many fans sitting for the slower songs in the set. To rally the flagging crowd, Brown said, “This ain’t no Bruce Springsteen or Elton John concert. We’re young! Even if you’re old, you’re young in here tonight.” Actually, Chris, the old foggies at Bruce Springsteen shows stand through sets twice as long as your 90 minute set every night.
Brown claimed even the old could feel young at his show; however,tonight, in trying to figure out why the school-aged kids around me had spent money to see such a lackluster show, I felt really, really old. Then again, judging by the lack of energy in the crowd and the way the arena cleared out quickly after the glowstick-inspired closer “Beautiful People,” a lot of the kids in the show were probably wondering the same thing.
“Say it With Me”
“I Can Transform Ya”
“Wall to Wall”
“Yo (Excuse Me Miss)”
“Body to Body”
“She Ain’t You”
“Oh My Love”
“Look at Me Now”
“Throw it Away”
“Right Next 2U”
“Hearts All Over the World”
“I Want it all Back”
“Forever” “Beautiful People”
Jay Trucker is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk and blogs occasionally at WNST.net. He last reviewed Stone Temple Pilots at Pier Six Pavilion. Erik Maza edited this post.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun