Tuesday, July 14, 2009

En Vogue at the Alameda County Fair, CA: 7/11/2009

Since the 1960s, American music has developed a proud legacy of successful, talented African-American female singing groups that stretches from The Shirelles to Martha and the Vandellas to The Supremes right up to Destiny's Child. With a quartet of powerful voices and more than 20 million albums sold worldwide since 1990, En Vogue is already part of that legacy and now they've set their eyes on a comeback.

After years of line-up changes, En Vogue’s four original members—Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron-Bragg, Maxine Jones and Dawn Robinson—have reunited and are performing spot dates and small concerts around the US with an eye to releasing a new album this year. On Saturday they returned to their San Francisco Bay Area stomping groups (the group was originally formed in Oakland, California) for one of these performances—two back-to-back shows at the Alameda County Fair in a 3,000 seat amphitheatre.

I’d usually be a little sad to see a former powerhouse act like En Vogue reduced to playing a county fair, but they're clearly using these opportunities to get back in the groove of performing together, reintroduce themselves to the Gen Xers and older who loved their music the first time around and introduce their sound to the two generations that have come along since En Vogue's heyday.

[bxA]Though (as you can tell from the video clips) the ladies are not being professionally styled, the choreography is loose at best and two of them were having problems with their earpieces on Saturday, the quartet's beautiful harmonies and soaring, shared lead vocals prove that they still own the title of "Funky Divas."

Dance moves, sparkly outfits, light shows and stage sets all take a back seat to the same simple fact that made En Vogue a hit almost two decades ago:  these ladies can SING. Not "kind of sing" or "sing with a lot of help from Autotune and a good backing track," but sing with silky smooth R&B voices and a sexy attitude that gets two packed houses on their feet and signing along verse after verse.

En Vogue will have a challenging time trying to "make it big" again; the music scene and radio has changed since they were R&B superstars.  But if you get a chance to see them live, take it.  One listen and you'll find yourself hoping that En Vogue once again succeeds.

As of this posting, En Vogue is scheduled to play the following shows:
  • August 2 - Temple Beth in Suffolk, VA
  • August 7 - Spirit Mountain Casino in Grand Ronde, OR
  • August 8 - Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, AZ
  • August 29 - Chastain Park Amphitheater in Atlanta, GA
  • October 2 - IP Casino Resort and Spa
Visit our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/popwenches to watch three more En Vogue concert clips.

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