by Matt Bauer / Entertainment Editor
Boy, how time flies! The babies conceived to “My, My, My” are pushing 30 and their parents are now “grown, n, sexy.” Nevertheless, Johnny Gill is one of the truly timeless artists of R&B and the audience at the Seneca Niagara Events Center, this past Saturday February 10, were treated to an early Valentine’s Day celebration.
1990’s vocal group All-4-One opened the show with a more than capable 45-minute set of pop-soul confections. Hits like “I Can Love You Like That” and “I Swear” are among the most unctuous of their era but they’ve aged quite well. The quartet were at their finest with the charming acapella stroll of “So Much In Love” and a slick cover of Shalamar’s “A Night To Remember” helping to lubricate the crowd (many still arriving) for Mr. Gill’s amorous R&B.
Debonair in a pristine, white suit and flanked during certain songs by alluring female dancers, Gill was on point from the get-go with the energizing new-jack bounce of “Fairweather Friend,” pacing both sides of the stage and rocking some smooth dance moves as the females in the audience screamed “Johnny!” Sure, those cries don’t risk drowning out the music like they used to back in the day, but at 51, Gill is still a bonafide sex symbol.
He didn’t lose any of that magnetism throughout his 70-plus minute performance. 2011’s’“It Would Be You” was extended into a sing-along with Gill sharing the mike with lucky audience members one of whom proposed to her partner onstage in a touching moment of Valentine’s bliss.
“Can You Stand The Rain” and “My, My, My” were the predictable favorites, with Gill stepping out and walking through the crowd on the latter while he dug a bit deeper into his catalogue with “Slow & Sexy” (his 1992 collaboration with Shabba Ranks) and tipped his hat to the youngun’s with a short dip into Bruno Mars’ “Champagne on Ice.”
An encore of “Rub You The Right Way” ended the show on a pump giving the crowd a shot of appropriate vigor as they prepared to venture into a cold Western New York Night. As one audience member could be heard saying, “He’s such an entertainer!”