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"Up Close & Personal" Tour Concert Review

Chris Brown, Ne-Yo Did Not Disappoint

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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The "Up Close & Personal Tour," headlined by R&B-Pop stars Chris Brown and Ne-Yo rolled into the Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre in Orange County, California, on Fri., Sept. 29, 2006, and the show definitely did not disappoint.
Both Brown and Ne-Yo put on shart, energetic performances. And even the Hip-Hop acts who opened the show - including Lil' Wayne and Dem Franchize Boyz - put on entertaining shows, despite Hip-Hop artists being notorious for poor live performances.

Chris Brown's the Real Deal

Despite talk before the tour that Chris Brown and Ne-Yo would be "co-headling" the event, it's clear that Brown is the true headliner. Not only was his name was the only one appearing on the venue's marquee, but it was his name that consistently got the loudest response from the mostly teenage, female crowd when the the performers' names were announced by the show's host in between acts.
And judging by this particular performance, it's easy to see why Brown's such a favorite: he's clearly the real deal. As soon as he came out at 9:40 pm - dapperly dressed in a three-piece white suit with black tie and black and white shoes - the screams from the crowd were deafening.
And he started things off right on the right note by performing one of his best-known songs, "Gimme That," along with Lil' Wayne.
And it became obvious that there was no studio wizardry involved on Brown's debut album to make him sound better than he is. His voice was just as sharp, clear and powerful live as it is on his records.
But not only did he sing, he danced (and had no less than eight back-up dancers) and he acted. He was very energetic, he charmed the crowd and had a very commanding stage presence.
The verdict? Chris Brown is the real deal.

Ne-Yo's No Second Banana

And despite being the next-to-last act and not the headliner, Ne-Yo can't be considered a second banana; he probably could have headlined a tour of his own, catering to a little older audience, had he chosen to.
His act was more laid-back, more romantic than anyone else on the bill, but it was still very high-energy. However, on this particular night, it did take Ne-Yo a little time to get into a groove.
During the early minutes of his 50-minute performance, he made some subtle missteps during his dance routine, including dropping the microphone stand and slightly stumbling.
But to his credit, he acknowledged this and even had a reason for it: "Ya'll gotta excuse me if I'm a little nervous," he said about 10 minutes into his act. "I live here in California and ain't no love like hometown love."
But as he went on, his jitters apparently disappeared because his vocals got stronger and there were no more mistakes on his part.
When he first took the stage it took the crowd time to warm up to him, but by the time he was almost done, most of the crowd was on its feet singing along.
And like Chris Brown, Ne-Yo's singing was all-natural and very strong live. And his dancing was overall superior to Brown's, despite the early mistakes.

The Other Acts

As far as the warm-up acts go - Lil' Wayne (who seemed heavily medicated), Dem Franchize Boyz, Juelz Santana and a couple of others - all put on fair to good performances.
Lil' Wayne's performance even included a guest appearance by his surrogate father, Baby (aka Birdman) on the pair's current Hip-Hop hit, "Stuntin' Like My Daddy."
There were no elaborate stage sets for any of the acts, so that helped cut down on the in-between act intermissions. They show rolled along very smoothly, with only 10-minute gaps in-between each performance.
Also, the venue's sound system for the most part worked very well throughout the night, although poor Ne-Yo was the one act who suffered a few seconds technical glitches during his show.
But overall, the "Up Close & Personal Tour" show in Orange County was an overwhelming success. If all, or even most of the shows on the tour are this good, then this is one of best music tours of the year, quality-wise. And it's defintely the biggest and best R&B/Hip-Hop tour of 2006 thus far.

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