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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Bobby Brown: A Soul in Motion

Times Staff Writer

“Laaaaadddddiessssss!” singer Bobby Brown shrieked passionately at the packed Forum Friday night. “Laaaaaaddddieeeeesssss, listen to me!”

Brown didn’t have to yell. He already had the ladies’ attention.

By then the slender singer’s shirt was off and his silky, baggy pants were shimmying down his legs, revealing skin-tight, Spandex shorts.

Throughout the show, the hottest male soul singer to come along in the last few years was constantly removing his shirt, dropping his pants and doing bumps-and-grinds. You’d have thought he was headlining at Chippendale’s rather than the Forum. In concert all of Brown’s songs--even the hits “Don’t Be Cruel” and “My Prerogative"--were just vehicles for his steamy antics.

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Brown started his show the way any 20-year-old egomaniacal superstar would--descending to the stage on a throne, bragging that he was about to tear the roof off the hall. From then on, he was in perpetual motion, dancing and racing across the stage.

As a concert singer, though, Brown is a lightweight. His mediocre vocals were mercifully drowned out by his large, ear-splitting band.

The former New Edition member makes excellent records--his “Don’t Be Cruel” was one of last year’s best albums--but compared to greats like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Teddy Pendergrass and Prince, he falls short as a singer. Still, there’s an edgy, sexual energy coursing through his vocals.

At the end of the show Brown acted like a star-struck kid, inviting celebrities like Chaka Khan, Sheila E., Eazy-E and New Edition on stage for a chaotic jam session.

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Suddenly, he was claiming to be a man of God, inviting the audience to join him in a prayer. For the women in the audience, that somber, religious monologue must have hit like a cold shower.

Was his point that even though he comes across as a macho, sex-crazed egomaniac, he’s really a saintly, caring guy underneath? Talk about your mixed messages!

Brown was preceded by LeVert, a trio best known for a superbly sensual tune called “Casanova.” The crowd responded mostly to the high-voltage dance music and didn’t seem to care that these guys are inept live singers.

By far the best singer on the Forum stage Friday night was Karyn White, the magnetic, prodigiously talented young singer who preceded LeVert and stirred up the audience with sizzling performances of her two big hits, “The Way You Love Me” and “Superwoman.”

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