Sunday, July 30, 2000

Concert Review: Coors Light Festival

Rain doesn't hinder sounds of Coors fest

By Larry Nager
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        It didn't dare rain on Patti LaBelle and Frankie Beverly at Cinergy Field on Saturday night. In honor of the first time the event's perennial headliners shared a single show, the storms blew off early, leaving an unseasonably cool and comfortable night behind.

        The second evening of the Coors Light Festival opened with hometown flavor from Ohio Valley Funk pioneers, the Ohio Players. But though the Dayton band, fronted by wizened singer/guitarist Leroy “Sugarfoot” Bonner, worked through its '70s hits, the band's 50-minute set never came together until its finale, “Skintight.”

        Sisqo, Dru Hill's platinum blonde frontman, brought his solo tour to the fest, adding some youthful appeal and hip-hop energy to Saturday's classic soul show.

        But not nearly enough. Onstage for barely 15 minutes, he left before he or the crowd had a chance to even warm up.

        It was a stark contrast to the next act, soul music's marathon men, Frankie Beverly & Maze. The eight-man band cut a deep, mid-tempo groove that didn't let up for the next 80 minutes.

        The audience was with him all the way. With a supple, muscular sound that blends funk and jazz unto melodic songs, Maze has spent the past 25 years building one of the most loyal followings in R&B. At its best in concert, the white-clad band, as usual, owned Cinergy on Saturday.

        Then it was time for the diva's diva to fill that huge stadium with her even bigger voice. Only Patti LaBelle has the nerve and the talent to follow Mr. Beverly at the Cinergy fest, and she did it. Though she complained she couldn't hear herself, the crowd had no problem.


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