A Review: Toni Braxton and SWV “Long As I Live” Tour
On Sunday, January 20, 2019 at the Boutwell Auditorium located in Downtown Birmingham, Alabama was treated to the sexy As Long As I Live Tour Starring Grammy Award winner Toni Braxton and special guest SWV.
The well attended show was slated to began at 7 pm, but actually kicked off at 7:20 with SWV.
SWV, also know as Sisters With Voices, is an R&B trio that broke into the music scene in 1992. The group split for a period of time in the late 1990’s, but reunited in 2005 and came back stronger than ever.
The ladies graced the Boutwell stage wearing black stylish outfits adorned with big military-styled gold buttons. Their set was energetic and flirty as they sang many of their popular songs such as; Rain, You’re the One, and I’m So Into You.
Each lady also got to show off their individual vocal talent as they all covered a popular song. A crowd favorite was group member Lelee’s perfect rendition of Mary J. Blige’s Be Happy and her interpretation of what social media has dubbed Blige’s Auntie dance. The electric ladies ended their set with nearly everyone’s favorite SWV tune, Weak. The applause seemed unending as the group exited the stage making room for Ms. Braxton.
After a more than thirty minute intermission, Toni Braxton arrived.
Braxton’s stage setup was elaborate and girly-mixing fantasy with adult sophistication. There was a white grand piano whose pianist donned a black bowler hat, a gleaming chandelier, lit taper candles, a spiraling white staircase, the singer’s first name all aglow in neon lights, rhinestone and satin drapery, two background dancers/singers in sequins, and a live band.
Braxton apparated from the spiral staircase looking gorgeous in a gown made entirely of sheer white lace and sparking white rhinestones with a high split that revealed an impossibly toned bronze leg. The singer began her set with some of her mid 90’s and early 2000’s favorites, such as You’re Makin Me High, He Wasn’t Man Enough, and How Many Ways.
Suddenly, the stage darkened dramatically and the audience was treated to infinite blue stars as Queen Toni and her ladies-in-waiting, if you will, sat down on high stools and took it back to the 1992 Boomerang soundtrack with Braxton’s breakout hit Love Shoulda Brought You Home.
Braxton was charming and engaging as she wield anecdotal stories between songs in a speaking voice that is just as mesmerizing as her singing one. After an outfit change, to a more slinky black number with 1920’s Flapper styled fringe, the singer sang from her new album Sex and Cigarettes.
Toni even got a little personal about her failing relationship with rapper Birdman. Braxton revealed that the new release is about being in love, but knowing things aren’t right especially when your partner comes home smelling of sex and cigarettes. She even jokingly stated that she wished she could have titled the album Sex and Weed.
After several flawlessly preformed new songs from Sex and Cigarettes, Toni crooned more of her classic songs. The demure songstress surprisingly entered into the crowd and walked down the aisle greeting audience members with her burly security team in tow.
After several more surprises that I will not indulgence in, as not to ruin the moment for fans potentially interested in attending the show, Braxton ended her performance with her current single As Long As I Live, disappearing from wince she came, the abyss of the white spiral staircase.
Personally, I found the show fun and intriguing, as I am a long-time appreciator of both Toni Braxton and SWV’s work; however, some members of the audience were a little less than impressed.
The common opinion appears to be that SWV brought the house down, while Braxton struggled with some technical sound issues and relied too much on the strength of the audience knowing the words to her songs.
I beg to differ entirely. I believe the concert was geared toward true Toni Braxton fans looking forward to enjoying a somewhat intimate experience with the artist. This show is not for causal concert goers who know little of the superstar or her catalog. Also understand that this was only the second show of the tour and certain technical glitches will be worked out along the way. Toni’s voice is still fantastically beautiful and so is she.
I would highly recommend attending The Long As I Live Tour which will be happening in nineteen more major American cities until March 2019. For more information on the tour and how to reserve your own tickets, checkout www.tonibraxton.com
Pictures appear courtesy of Rod J – magiccityradar.net