R. Kelly at Allstate Arena | Photos + live review | Was that R. Kelly's wien?
"Did you get peed on?" a friend texted after I attended last night's R. Kelly show at the Allstate Arena. It was meant as a joke, but as freaky as it sounds, yeah, the R&B auteur gave the hometown crowd—musically, at least—a glorious golden shower of a show. Appropriately, Kelly's two-hour session ended (climaxed?!) with a massive spray of metallic confetti.
After kicking off the show at the onstage bar (actually staffed by a real old man slinging drinks!) by lighting up a stogie, a sweat-drenched Kells passionately air-humped his way through a veritable career retrospective medley of hits, some lasting only a few seconds: "Step in the Name of Love" (twice!), a rare full-length "Ignition (Remix)" and "You Remind Me of Something," my fave song about a man wanting to sex a lady—but only because she evokes the shape of a Chrysler sport-utility vehicle.
Kelly occasionally veered away from the '90s knockin'-boots fare to don a crisp '60s-era suit or Malcolm X glasses in order to perform cuts off of last year's retro-gazing Love Letter album—which finds him as wholesome as he's ever been on record. As dressing for the songs, the sartorial gestures at purity came off as insincere, and before long Kells settled back into bellowing, "Sexy ladies screeeeeeeeam!" Not surprisingly, he even referenced himself in the third person: "I love that old-school R. Kelly shit."
Some other notable moments:
- Toward the end of a video montage, there's a shot of Kelly walking toward the camera in a pair of see-through, flowy white boxer shorts, and the audience gets an unexpected Anthony Weiner–esque view of Kells' equipment. Ladies lost their shit.
- Tupac Shakur would've celebrated his 40th birthday yesterday, and Kelly marked the occasion by announcing, "Happy birthday to my nigga, Tupac."
- Rushing out into the audience, Kelly stood on a chair and declared, "Shit, I'm gonna do the rest of the show from here," and proceeded to do a disjointed a capella "Real Talk."
- At the end of the show, a cavalcade of thick-trunked ladies hit the stage to drink champagne from the onstage bar in a toast to the master of ceremonies.
But my favorite slice of audience-bating stage banter came more than a dozen numbers in...
Kells: "Oh, We just gettin' started. We haven't even left the ground yet. We still on the runway!"
Ladies freaking the fuck out.
K: "You know every time I break this shit down, it gets real hot in the place. You all know. But my only problem is, when I break it down—I've been breakin' it down for seven years on this particular song, and my only problem is nobody every really fuckin' strips. That shit's about to change."
A woman next to me jumps on her chair and screams.
K: "Somebody's strippin' up in here tonight, yo. Some deals are going to be made. I want to make some deals with the ladies. Ladies, let's make a deal. Let's, let's do this. I'm going to make a deal with the ladies tonight."
Kelly begins taunting the womens in song: "I'm gon' take somethin' off, if you take somethin' off."
Kells, speaking again: "Don't look at me like you ain't never heard no goddamn deal like that."
Self-aware applause from the fellas in attendance.
Kelly, singing, looking directly at specific women in the crowd: "I will take somethin' oooooooooooofffff, but only if you take somethin' off. You go first, you go first, no, you go first."
R. sees something he likes to the left of the stage, and starts imploring the woman to remove an unspecified item of clothing, crooning, "Throw it at me, throw it at me, now throooow it at me. Can you throoooow?"
Then, it happens: Someone throws, not a lace bra or silky underwear, but what looks like a piece of bread at R. Motherfucking Kelly. When it hits him in the left leg, Kelly belts, as only he can: "Whaaaat the fuuuuck was thaaaaaaaaaaaaat?"