by Matt Bauer / Entertainment editor
Boy, how quickly time flies! Babies designed for “My, My, My” grow 30 years old and their parents are now “big, n, sexy”. Nonetheless, Johnny Gill is one of the truly timeless artists of R&B and the public of the Seneca Niagara Events Center, on Saturday February 10, was entitled to a celebration of Valentine’s Day in advance.
The 1990s vocal group All-4-One opened the show with an ensemble more than capable of 45 minutes of pop-soul making. Hits like “I Can Love You Like That” and “I Swear” are some of the smoothest of their time, but they’ve aged pretty well. The quartet was at its best with the charming acapella stroll of “So Much In Love” and a smooth cover of Shalamar’s “A Night To Remember” helping to lubricate the crowd (many are still arriving) for Mr. Gill’s loving R&B.
Debonair in a crisp white costume and flanked during some seductive dancer songs, Gill was on point from the start with the energizing bounce of “Fairweather Friend”, pacing both sides of the stage and swinging a gentle dance move as the women in the audience shouted “Johnny!” Of course, those screams aren’t likely to drown out the music like they did back then, but at 51, Gill is still a real sex symbol.
He lost none of that magnetism throughout his performance of over 70 minutes. The 2011 song “It Would Be You” was extended by a song with Gill sharing the mic with lucky audience members, one of whom proposed to his partner on stage in a heartwarming moment of Valentine’s Day bliss. .
“Can You Stand The Rain” and “My, My, My” were predictable favorites, with Gill stepping out and walking through the crowd on the latter as he digged a little deeper into his catalog with “Slow & Sexy” ( his 1992 collaboration with Shabba Ranks) and took his hat off to the youngster with a little dip in Bruno Mars’ “Champagne on Ice”.
A callback of “Rub You The Right Way” ended the show on a pump giving the crowd an appropriate dose of vigor as they prepared to venture into a cold night in western New York. As one could hear a member of the public say: “He is such an artist!”