Chris Brown’s Heartbreak on a Full Moon Tour At Barclay’s Center, Monday, July 17th, 2018, Reviewed
Call it chill r&b, call it alt-r&B, maybe neo-r&b, and borderline art-r&b, call it what you choose, but the only problem with Chris Brown’s Heartbreak On a Full Moon concert at Barclays Center last night was their relegating Rich The Kid to a preposterously short ten minute set very early in the proceedings. Rich The Kid was spectacularly uninspired and nowhere near ready for the arena, but he will be one day if he doesn’t get himself killed. But everybody else…
6lack we know about from his Governors Ball set in June, with sophomore album about ready to drop, and a rock hard position as a soul singer who can rap, 6lack if not as strong as he was in June was still big time. The sound was too loud and he must have felt to perform everything at double its natural decibels and didn’t help material that exists entirely in nuance. His great “Ex-Calling” from 2016 was lost and his latest, “Switch” was more of the same and didn’t catch fire, but given what 6lack had to work with, he more than got the job done.
But the revelation was transplanted West Coast, current Brooklyn’s finest, H.E.R. She woke up Monday morning and thought to herself, “I am playing Barclay Center tonight” and the 21 year old soul sister’s excitement was a thrill to behold. I’ve stayed clear of H.E.R. (an acronym for “Having Everything Revealed”), her sound was a little soft, a little too smoot, but I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention as Gabi (her real name) was so strong that the signing to RCA is no surprise. Last night her 45 minute set was consistently enthralling, with a DJ, drums, and a Pro Tool behind her, Gabi’s voice was a thing of beauty and power and she seemed completely comfortable on stage. At this stage of her career, just two years in, everything is a highlight and was treated as such but especially when soulman Daniel Caesar joined her for the gorgeous soft stroke of “Best Part” (still Gabi’s biggest hit and a smash when they performed it together at the BET Awards), and the only one hit but it is killa Ella Mai performed “Boo’d Up” -one of the best r&b tracks of the year. H.E.R. is a mellow with an arty edge and just right in this time and place… “Focus” absolutely killed.
Chris Brown will never get over his, well deserved, reputation, as an irrational, violent, women beater, and I was speaking to a friend of mine, a woman, who said none of her friends would go with her to see him because they wouldn’t support the monster. I myself passed on a tee shirt and went with H.E.R. instead. That didn’t stop the 90% female audience members nearly screaming the roof off for Chris. With an elaborate and lovely two tier stage and a half dozen male dances, Chris reminded us what he was all about and it isn’t his hybrid hip hop, it is about the way he moves. Everything he does, the rhythm very heavy songs, the lack of melody lines (for soul songs? a no no), not his stripping down to a, hummm, wife beater, it is is elastic keep movements, it is the backflip in place, the moonwalking as a prelude to better things, that makes him special. Chris is the best dancer in pop music today, first he equals and then he surpasses Usher, and if he didn’t beat women, and if he had (much) better material, he might actually contend for the crown MJ didn’t bestow on Usher. His songs aren’t soul, they aren’t really r&b, they are woulda coulda hip hop and, as shown on his 57 song, three hour plus, 2017 Heartbreak On A Full Moon Deluxe Edition, he knows neither when to stop nor when to start. All caveats notwithstanding, it was a cool set, too much from the latest but with Chris you aren’t working on greatest hits at the best of time. The little girls understand and they had a thriller from this black equivalent of Harry Styles