No one comes to a Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly) concert expecting to actually see the show–hear it either for that matter. Most people are standing up and dancing in the aisles from the moment they hit the stage until the lights come up.
It doesn’t matter that Beverly’s voice isn’t as strong as it was in his heyday. This isn’t really a concert—it’s a sing-a-long. People come for the experience, and not just once, but also 10, 20, even 30 times. Don’t tell that to the folks in Music City. On Friday, February 12 at 8 pm, downtown at the Municipal Auditorium, they came to see and be the show. The fans did indeed get what they came for, and then some. They received a triple dose of traditional-minded R&B.
It all started with the 43-year-old R&B singer Joseph Thomas, better known as just Joe. The 20-year+ veteran who had a front-row seat watching the genre evolve, had the ladies cringing at first glance. At his first fine voice tune, he had them about to faint. Joe still believes R&B needs to remember romance and that being in love still matters. He sings like it to. Joe’s connection with his audience has led to a long career. He released his first album in 1993, along with a hit commercial. The triple-platinum My Name Is Joe, released in 2000, remains his most successful album to date. Although the seven-time Grammy nominee is best known for the popular ballad ‘I Wanna Know’ and for providing the hook for rapper Big Pun’s ‘Still Not a Player,’ Joe has built a consistent catalog over the years.
Next, it was Fantasia Monique Barrino’s time. The American Idol alum stopped by the show to remind people that she still has those impressive (jaw-dropping) pipes that won her season three of Idol back in 2004. The North Carolina native with the powerful, gospelinfused voice and gritty determination dazzled fans. This phenomenal natural talent who can hold her own against anybody even got emotional on her last number. The singer walked off the stage in tears.
Of course the headliner showed out. Three hours later, the place was still packed. Nothing tends to puzzle music fans more than finding out that bands they wrote off as ‘has-beens’ or ‘never-weres,’ still pack crowds on a regular basis. Sure they had a handful of hits in the early ‘80s, but this group has been called the ‘urban Grateful Dead’ by many, for their ability to maintain a fervent audience decades later without the help of any mainstream radio play.
For nearly 40 years, Frankie Beverly and Maze have stayed true to their own sound.
“The band has always been from the old school,” said Beverly. They’re a derivative from the ‘60s. Today’s music is machines with all sorts of shocking lyrics, unlike ‘60s music. They may have been crazy back then, but the music was wholesome.
They may be the last of the R&B bands. Maze sounds like a cross between Sly Stone and Marvin Gaye, two classic ‘60s soul artists.
Some people say you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced a Frankie Beverly and Maze concert.