The Janet Jackson “State of the World” Tour:

Wonderful Things Come to Those Who Wait.

                               Janet In Motion photo by Bertram Smith 

                               Janet In Motion photo by Bertram Smith 

Concert Review: by Matt Bauer 

The Janet Jackson “State of the World” Tour:Wonderful Things Come to Those Who Wait.  That proved especially true when Janet Jackson brought her “The State Of The World” tour to the Key Bank Center last Saturday night. The birth of Miss Jackson's first baby led to a 2016 postponement but given the state of world and domestic affairs, the socially conscious performance seemed especially pertinent now.

Clad in black and spinning a cane ,with video images of Africa, Syria and inner city turmoil, not to mention names like Eric Garner in the background, Jackson opened the show with the one-two punch of “The Knowledge” and “State Of The World” (both from the 1989 landmark “Rhythm Nation 1814” album). Indeed, she continues to “stay woke” and her music's transformative power in times of upheaval eschewed any sense of nostalgia and proved to be the overall theme of the evening. And at 51, she's still one of the most exciting performers to ever grace a stage.

Accompanied by nine dancers—including Buffalo's Allison Buczkowski- ---and backed by a nine piece band, Jackson was breathtaking as classics like “Miss You Much,” “The Pleasure Principle,” “Love Will Never Do (Without You),” “Escapade” and, most poignantly given the number of legends lost in the past two years, “Together Again,” were delivered with fantastic showmanship that rendered them timeless while also serving as potent reminders of her astonishing breadth of influence.

A few surprises abounded as well, most notably the harrowing “What About” (from 1997's “The Velvet Rope”) where the dancers acted out substance and domestic abuse into a performance piece that transcended music into pure, visceral drama highlighting Jackson's most emotional vocals of the night.

“Rhythm Nation” was the fitting climax, a still devastating slice of thunderous, Sly-Stone influenced funk and a musical call to consciousness and unity as relevant as it was almost three decades ago with militantly sharp choreography to match.

Nearly 40 years into her recording career, Janet Jackson remains one of the most iconic and significant musical artists. If this current tour is any indication, she'll be ruling as the true queen of pop for many years to come.

Patti Labelle Concert Review by Matt Bauer

A Patti Labelle Show Isn’t Just a Concert,

It’s A Spiritual Experience!

The spirit was definitely in it when she performed at the Seneca Niagara Events Center, on Friday November 3rd. From the opening notes of her empowering anthem “New Attitude,” Labelle’s fervent and unshakeable bond with her fans was immediately apparent. Some came bearing flowers and all were under her spell throughout her nearly two-hour performance, which covered all facets of her 54-year and counting career.

Still a force of nature at 73, she was luminous in a champagne colored dress. Backed by an 8 piece band and three back up singers (who took turns in the spotlight during a gospel flavored rave-up of Al Green’s “Love and Happiness”), Labelle performed hit after hit with glowing, emotional intensity and occasional dashes of self deprecating humor.

Classics like “If You Asked Me To,” “Love, Need and Want You,” “Somebody Loves You Baby“ (which was especially poignant given the recent passing of its co-writer, unsung Philly soul legend Bunny Sigler) and “If Only You Knew” were present and accounted for. Age hasn’t diminished Labelle’s glorious vocals as she effortlessly hit those unbelievably high notes to spine-tingling effect. And when she flung off her shoes during a wonderful take on Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes’ “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” it was classic, unfettered Patti.

As pictures of departed, musicians, political figures and members of Patti’s family flashed across the center’s video screen “You Are My Friend,” was easily Labelle’s most moving performance of the evening as it seamlessly blended with “What A Friend We Have In Jesus.”

A spirited “Lady Marmalade” followed with lucky audience members invited onstage to dance, sing and humorously ham it up with the diva. “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” closed the show on an expectedly transcendent note. But there was more.

For an encore, Labelle gifted the faithful with one last treat: “Here’s To Life” from her recent jazz album “Bel Hommage.” Accompanied only by piano, it was a stunningly intimate coda. As she exited stage right and the crowd filed out, an audience member screamed out “We Love You Patti! ” a perfect summation of the night’s vibe.


Fats Domino, The Real “King of Rock ’n’ Roll”

Rock ’n’ roll, has lost another great. The legendary Fats Domino of New Orleans passed away Tuesday October 24th at the age of 89, surrounded by friends and family. According to TMZ, the Jefferson Parish, La., Coroner’s Office said that Domino died of natural causes..  

Singer-pianist Antoine Domino Jr., known lovingly as “Fats” or “the Fat Man,” took over the musical scene in the United States in the ’50s and ’60s, with hits like “Blueberry Hill,” “Ain’t That a Shame,” “Blue Monday,” “I Want to Walk You Home,” “Walking to New Orleans” and “I’m Walkin.” His first million-selling record was aptly called “The Fat Man.”

NPR notes that between 1950 and 1963, Domino made it to the R&B charts some 59 times, and also hit the pop charts 63 times. He outsold Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holy combined, with only Elvis Presley—who cited Domino as a key influence—moving more records during the same time period. At one point, surrounded by the Las Vegas press, Elvis, who admired Fats dearly, was asked a question by a reporter who referred to him by his common moniker: “the king.”

Rather than accept the title and all the praise that would come along with it, Elvis alerted the media of Domino’s presence in the room. “No, that’s the real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll,” said Elvis. As TMZ reports, Domino sold more than 65 million records in his lifetime and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1987, a year after he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He survived Hurricane Katrina (he had a mansion in the 9th Ward and was rescued by helicopter) and performed for benefit concerts and recordings to rebuild the ravaged city he loved.

Buffalo Native and Motivational Acoustic-Soul Singer/Guitarist C West Came Drops Debut Solo Album “Hide And Seek”

Buffalo’s own Acoustic Soul singer, songwriter and guitarist, C West, brought his inspiring and uplifting, decision-making melodies home to the Ruff Buff for a special concert unveiling his debut solo album, Hide and Seek (Marquis Boone/Tyscot). The 20- year old millennial minstrel performed songs from the project at the free admission show on Friday, October 27th at Sword of the Spirit, 300 Kensington Avenue.

C West writes decision-making songs about choosing right over wrong and leading a positive life. The 20-year old debuted his dynamic spiritual love song, “Breaks Your Heart,” earlier this year and he is currently promoting his Billboard Top 30 Gospel Airplay chart single, “Focus.” The latter is earning broad airplay on both gospel and R&B radio station formats. “Heard this on Sirius, FM [That’s] what I’m talking about,” one fan wrote on YouTube while another simply wrote, “Love this song! STAY Focused.” Meanwhile, his track “Unusual Love” is making the rounds at Triple A radio and college rock station formats.

C West hails from Buffalo, NY where he was raised in the church but was influenced by the music of Maxwell, Michael Jackson and Prince. While a student at Villa Maria College, he won a “Discovered” singing contest sponsored by Marquis Boone who has managed artists such as Billboard No. 1 artists, Casey J and Bri (Briana Babineaux). First prize was a recording contract and C West’s “Hide and Seek” project is the melodious result!

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