Bell Biv DeVoe, Dru Hill, SWV and Pure Skye @ The Dell.
Nostalgia filled The Dell Music Center last Thursday night for 90’s R&B stars SWV, Dru Hill and Bell Biv DeVoe. More than 3,000 seats were filled at the sold-out, outdoor venue with people of all ages.
Also, in attendance was Philly songstress Marsha Ambrosius, who was there to celebrate her 36th birthday. She told the crowd to check out her new single “Without You,” featuring Ne-Yo, and expressed excitement about her birthday.
“I’m ready to turn it up, just like you,” she said.
As the crowd purchased snacks and searched for their seats, WDAS’ Patty Jackson warmed them with her inviting voice laying the itinerary for the night, while DJ Gary O set the tone for the evening by playing 80s and 90s hits, including Salt-N-Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man” and Experience Unlimited’s “Doing the Butt.” The show hadn’t officially started but many people danced in their seats while waiting for friends to join them.
It wasn’t too long before Patty Jackson announced the first act. Opening for R&B royalty was a foursome boy group named Pure Skye,who hailed from Philadelphia but were under the mentorship of SWV in Atlanta. The group performed upbeat songs and harmonized slow ballads. They started off shaky, but eventually the crowd warmed up to them up.
SWV began the night to remember with “Right Here” from their 1992 album It’s About Time. Women and young girls swayed and sang along, but the group didn’t demand the crowds attention until the they performed hits like “I’m So Into You,” “Rain” “Anything” and “You’re the One.”
The trio also performed “Co-Sign” from their 2012 reunion album I Missed Us. Taj, Coko and Lelee kept the crowd excited with the tunes but everyone was obviously waiting for the group to perform one song before leaving the stage. Coko announced she needed the crowd to help sing to the next track, and when the intro to their 1992 hit “Weak” dropped, everybody stood up and started to sing the lyrics verbatim.
“I love this song,” uttered as an older woman in the crowd who pushed her hands to the sky while wearing a pink, knit hat spun in circles.
A semi-harmonious tune boosted from the venue as everyone screamed “I try hard to fight it,” leading up to the bridge.
Next up was Dru Hill. BBD was headlining but surprisingly Dru Hill was the most anticipated group to see. The quartet had everyone out of their seats as they performed fan favorites “Tell Me,” “Never Make A Promise,” “Making Love” and “In My Bed.” To change things up they performed new music from their latest project. The crowd grew worrisome hoping their time on stage wasn’t over, but that was until they started closing their set with “5 Steps” from their self-titled debut album. To add to the walk down memory lane, they extended the path with their Jodeci tribute singing “Pretty Brown Eyes,” while Nokio did a “Purple Rain” performance, spinning around and crawling on the floor like Prince.
Finally the legendary R&B group Bell Biv DeVoe took the stage. The trio sang hits “When Will I See You Smile Again?” and their infamous single “Poison.” True to the 1990 music video, Ronnie, Mike and Ricky worked their tricky and animated choreography to wow the crowd. To mimic the women seen in the video, SWV strolled on stage and danced side by side with fans who were pulled on stage.
Security stood in the isle of the front row to keep fans from approaching the former New Edition members. Women in bedazzled hot pink, and red, blue and white Bell Biv DeVoe shirts hung over the stage screaming for the the trio like it was still a New Jack Swing era.
The group also performed New Edition classic “Candy Girl” and pulled a lucky lady onstage to the sing the lead verse to “Mr. Telephone Man.”
For the first two-thirds of the concert, the crowd acted as observers. Being the true performers that they are, Bell Biv DeVoe literally worked on crowd participation.
It’s safe to say many fans lived out their 90s dream that night, especially those who uttered how they were too young to see Dru Hill, Bell Biv DeVoe and SWV in concert back in the day.