It was old school versus the Young Turks at the Budweiser Superfest on Saturday at the Coliseum. In a concert that spanned almost seven hours even though three of the scheduled seven acts didn't appear, Frankie Beverly & Maze and Patti LaBelle represented the 40-plus generation, while LSG and Montel Jordan brought the fresh flavor.
With the exception of Jordan--who took awhile to get warmed up--everyone scored a respectable number of points before the racially diverse, though far-from-capacity crowd.
The novelty hook of LSG is that its members--Gerald LeVert, Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill--all had successful solo careers prior to recording an album together last year. The trio's hottest moments, though, came when they performed pre-LSG signature hits.
Sweat's "I Want Her" still offers a rambunctious, roughneck kind of charm, while Gill's "My My My" allowed the former New Edition member to indulge in some shirt-ripping, pelvic-thrusting moves that were practically Bobby Brown-esque in their intensity.
Frankie Beverly & Maze have been performing for more than 20 years and while the born-in-Philly group never alters its mellow, happy-feelings persona, its fans seem to savor the predictability.
You can count on the reliability of old hits such as "Joy and Pain" to get hundreds of folks up on their feet, singing along at the top of their lungs. If ever a band was tailor-made for an outdoor funk 'n' soul fest at a huge venue such as the Coliseum, Frankie Beverly & Maze is it.
LaBelle's down-to-earth demeanor is just as much of a draw as her stellar vocal pipes. During her set, the 53-year-old diva jokingly complained about everything from her tight, tummy-restraining corset to the effects of menopause and her folly in wearing a long-sleeved velvet mini dress to a summer concert. "Is it 110 degrees," she inquired, "or am I having a hot flash?"
Whether she was pulling men to the stage to engage in some playfully flirty audience participation or infusing "New Attitude" with characteristic energy and high drama, LaBelle was a crowd-pleaser in peak form.
In the Young Turks category, LL Cool J, Dru Hill and K-Ci & JoJo were no-shows, but Jordan opened the concert with an appearance that was enhanced by hip-grinding dancers. Despite the help, Jordan seemed out of his element at first. Not until he lit into "Let's Ride" did the Long Beach native hit his stride. His closing "This Is How We Do It" with its popular refrain--"I'm kinda buzzed and it's all because/South Central does it like nobody does"--got the folks at the Coliseum, young and old, in a happily festive, no-color-lines kind of mood.