HANOVER, Md. — On Friday, Nov. 15, a full house of Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds’ fans packed the new concert stage at Live Casino.
Though the star was scheduled to come onstage at 8 p.m. in suburban Baltimore, about 45 minutes later, his seven-piece band clad in casual white attire, preceded their bandleader. Moments later, to thunderous screams and applause, the Indianapolis native arrived onstage wearing a silver, satin-like sports coat with white slacks, shoes and shirt, matching his bandmates.
The band had already set the mood with short snippets of “Where Will You Go” and “My Kinda Girl.” A talented alto saxophonist, along with two male backup singers, helped ignite their leader with his first tune, “For the Cool in You.” His setlist also included his self-penned hits such as “Two Occasions,” “Soon As I Get Home,” “Never Keeping Secrets” and “Whip Appeal.”
On this night, his female-heavy audience evoked memories when ‘Face staged special concerts targeted For Women Only in the early 1990s. Is Kenny Edmonds a sex symbol? Well, based on reactions on this night, it’s without question the 60-year-gentleman definitely still has the ladies under a spell.
Remarkably, he hasn’t aged very much in the past 30 years. Let’s assume he dyes his hair, but unlike many guys in his age group, he’s not balding. Also, he’s managed to control his weight unlike most men of his age. ‘Face looks great, but obviously he appreciates getting older, and that came across vey clear throughout his conversation with his audience.
With a career spanning nearly 40 years, the guy gave the people their money’s worth and more. Though he’s always had a reputation as a non-dancer, he acquitted himself well during the show. Along with his youthful band, he strutted around the stage and hopped around in synch with the rest of the group.
After about a 10-minute sprint of steady dance moves, he took a break, tightly holding the microphone and quipping after several deep breaths, “My name’s Babyface, not Baby Body” — one of several humorous comments the singer made throughout the night.
For this writer, the show evoked memories of watching The Deele, Midnight Star, Lakeside, Luther Vandross and Carrie Lucas perform at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport during an outdoor jam in summer 1984. I also attended the press conference in Atlanta when Clive Davis introduced Babyface and production partner L.A. Reid and their new venture, a Atlanta-based record company called LaFace Records. That was summer 1989 — exactly 30 years ago. And the rest, as they say, is history.
One of the highlights of the Live Casion this recent performance is when Babyface entered the audience and hugged one of his lady fans, to the crowd’s screams of surprise. At one point, he jumped on a chair and took photos among his fans. Those moments showed his comfort zone with his people, considering it was minimal security in his presence.
When the show ended after nearly two hours, the hyped-up crowd urged the star performer to retake the stage for an encore. Within 10 minutes, the band members were back, and so was ‘Face, this time with an acoustic guitar. He then delved into a smooth, emotional version of his big hit “When Will I See You Again.”
And with that, the show was a wrap, and everyone started grabbing their hats and coats to face the chilly winds and cold weather outside of the Casino’s protective walls.