Saturday, 17 August 2013

Picture This: Toni Braxton Live @ Casino Rama August 2013 (Review)

Forgive me if this review turns out a little muddled, but I woke up this morning with a wretched head cold. A small price to pay for the great time I had last night.

It's no secret that I'm an avid concert go-er, and for no good reason (other than my own neurotic need for live music) I'll frequently go on Ticketmaster and type in venues just to see who's playing and who I can afford to go see at the time. I usually narrow my scope to artists who I've admired for awhile, but whom I've never seen live before (unless they're one of my top favourite artists, then it's a must go), and Casino Rama is a great venue for these kinds of artists. So when I went through the Casino Rama lineup and saw Toni Braxton's name, the buzzers in my head went off and I immediately said "I'M GOING!" Of course, I asked Chris if he wanted to go and as soon as I said "Un-break My...." he said "Hell Yes!"

So last night we trekked our asses over to Casino Rama for the show, and let me tell you, she did not disappoint. Before the show even started, I was contemplating what songs she would sing, how she would be wearing her hair, and what kind of gorgeous outfits she would be wearing. As the band walked on stage, I was fully unprepared for the insanely interactive show I was about to witness.

She sauntered on to the stage in a gorgeous light pink dress with her long brunette locks lightly curled and seductively falling to her bosom, and with her deep, sultry alto voice began to sing a condensed acoustic version of her most recent single "I Heart You". Her voice was pitch perfect and maintained the dramatic flare that she has become known for. Singing luscious and deep and then swinging up into belting growls on passionate choruses and finishing off with impressive (sometimes falsetto) runs and trills. She joked throughout the evening about her voice, admitting that R Kelly once told her that her voice reminded him of Elvis.

After the first song, she had become bored of the pink gown (already) and as her back up singers (two of her sisters, Trina and Towanda) vamped on stage, she changed into her second show stopping outfit, a black embroidered nude bustier with a black satin tie around skirt which she often manipulated to expose (what can only be described as) legs for DAYS! After revisiting the songs How Many Ways, Seven Whole Days, and You Mean The World To Me from her debut album, it came time for her first bit of audience interaction when she plucked 2 fans out of the audience to help her sing Another Sad Love Song (also from her debut).

Audience participation became a big part of the show from that moment on. Singing a medley of songs chosen by the audience, inviting 2 couples up on stage to slow dance while she sang her classic hit "Breathe Again" for their anniversaries (which also prompted a solo fan to walk up on stage and slow dance with Toni while she sang it), inviting a group of male fans up on stage to show their smoothest dance moves while she performed "You're Makin' Me High" (reminded me of the music video when she had the elevator judging process), and finally coming down into the audience herself to seductively sit on male audience members laps and vamp with them while improving some new lyrics to the tune of I Heart You.

During the show, Toni confessed to the audience that she has been living with the disease lupus for a few years now (this has been public knowledge for awhile, but I had no idea), and she was told during a particularly bad flare up that she would never be able to sing or perform the way she used to, again. She has certainly proved them wrong, because she was playful, foxy, in fine voice and gorgeous this night. She of course thanked God for all his blessings, the fans who have supported her, and above all her family. Three of her sisters were in attendance last night (2 of them singing back up as I said) and after a little video montage of their reality show "Braxton Family Values", she handed the stage over to her sister Trina to perform her new single "Party Or Go Home".

The only negative things I can say about the show was, 1) Chris and I had very chatty girls behind us (which pissed me off, especially during ballads (one was a white girl pretending to be black, I thought white guys pretending to be black was bad, but white girls are worse), and 2) her energy level seemed a bit low when she sang the encore, which was Un-Break My Heart, naturally. It didn't seem to have the oomph that I was expecting, but all around it was a fabulous night. I'd see her again in a heartbeat!

The Set List:

Intro/I Heart You (Acoustic)
How Many Ways
Seven Whole Days
You Mean The World To Me
Another Sad Love Song
Love Shoulda Brought You Home
How Could An Angel Break My Heart
Just Be A Man About It
I Love Me Some Him
Medley of fan Requests: Stupid/There's No Me Without You/Spanish Guitar/Let It Flow
Breathe Again
Braxton Family Values (Video Interlude)
Party Or Go Home (Trina Braxton)
Medley: Please/Take This Ring/Hit The Freeway
He Wasn't Man Enough
You're Makin' Me High
Between The Sheets (cover)
Big Poppa (Notorious B.I.G. cover)
I Heart You (Vamping Version)

Un-Break My Heart

4 out of 5.

I preface that these pics are not mine, they are from her show in Las Vegas taken by Edison Graff, but the outfits are the same from the show last night and so is the set with the mirror boxes.

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