Review: Kenny Lattimore & After 7 Concert
This review is rather late, but I feel it is still relevant, as all the artists are currently touring.
On November 19, 2017, at the Alys Stephen Center located in the heart of Birmingham, Alabama, R&B artists Kenny Lattimore and After 7 put on a show that will not soon be forgotten. It was a rather frigid Sunday night for mid-November in Alabama, but that didn’t keep the crowd from sporting their Sunday best.
The Jemison Concert Hall was not quite at capacity, but the throng in attendance was ready for a show. Silk, sequins, velvet, and fur were the fabrics of choice for the evening. This show was obviously designed for the Grown and Sexy– people over the age of thirty-five.
Everything about the venue screamed sophistication and elegance, from the purple drapery on stage to the recessed mood lighting.
After a few jokes from a rather funny comedian and what we like to call in the South, church announcements from local DJ’s Orlando and Big Sweatt of Hot 107.7 radio station the show began.
To the chime of a live band and the sexy coos of two very attractive female background singers, R&B singer Kenny Lattimore strutted onto the stage singing his current single Love Me Back.
Lattimore first joined the music scene in 1989 where he released a self-titled album as part of the group Maniquin. However, Lattimore did not reach real success until he released his first solo project in 1996.
What was most enjoyable about the concert was during both sets, the artists not only sang but also told antidotal stories. The stories made each performance feel warm and personal.
Kenny Lattimore revealed that he was a trained vocalist. After he expressed to his mother a love for music as a teen, she had him enrolled in music lessons. Lattimore showed off his musical prowess singing a bit of opera and the jazzy American Standard Fly Me to the Moon. He even threw it back to his Howard University days, by doing an amazing cover of Norman Conner’s 1976 hit You Are My Starship.
Lattimore build up the audience’s anticipation for the climax we all had been waiting for, his 1996 single For You. He sang flawlessly and wonderfully well.
With the audience warmed up and excited, Lattimore and his background performers departed the stage to a wave of applause and blown kisses, making room for the main course- After 7.
Now I’m not saying that these guys materialized, but I held my head down for a second and the R&B group After 7, had appeared on stage.
The group dazzled in white silken suits with rhinestones along the seam and purple shirts. Keith Mitchell, Jason Edmonds (standing in for his father, original group member Melvin Edmonds, who is facing health challenges) and Kevon Edmonds got the crowd to their feet with a very upbeat performance of their 1989 hit, Can’t Stop.
The song’s title is almost a testament to the group’s relentlessness in their passion for their profession. The group, consisting of two brothers of the musical genius Babyface and a dear family friend, got their start in 1989 with an R&B chart topping self-titled album. However, after record label disputes and personal problems, the group had not done an album together in over twenty years- that is until 2016.
After a twist of fate and some positive interference by Babyface, the group released the album Timeless which is still doing numbers on the R&B charts.
After 7 dominated the stage all while keeping time with dance moves reminiscent of a purer era in music. One memorable moment of the night was their remarkable performance of Baby, I’m For Real.
The song originally co-written by Soul legend Marvin Gaye and preformed by the Originals, includes an added version of Natural High by the Bloodstone. The group members literally jumped down from the stage and into the audience driving onlookers absolutely wild!
It was sweaty, it was gritty, it was. . . . dare I say, spiritual? It was like three ministers carrying on a full gospel church service. People were shouting, stomping, screaming. Kevon and Jason were leading the revival, while Keith sang ethereal background vocals then came in for his own leading part; afterward, he faded back into sweet harmony with the other guys.
Jason, who seemed a little shy and reserved at first, broke out into strong velvety vocals similar to his father’s and by the time Kevon got into the flawless aspects of Natural High it was over. The guys were into it, the audience was into, and when the song finally ended I swear it felt like the Holy Spirit had left the room.
I looked around at fellow audience members to see bloodshot eyes and shaking- it was a group transcendentalist experience. It was nothing like I have ever experienced in concert.
After 7’s set was as smooth as fine wine. Singing their classic hits like Heat of the Moment and Ready or Not, their new material got to shine equally.
They sang their new singles, I Want You which included an appropriate Marvin Gaye homage and Too Late which was written by David Edmonds, a very talented first cousin of Jason Edmonds, who took the stage with the group for this special performance.
After a little more than an hour on stage, the show ended with a new song from their album Timeless which will be in rotation on the radio soon.
I’ve attended a lot of concerts in my life, but nothing quite beats this experience.
The truth of the matter is real R&B is missed. We live in a digital era. Real voices are masked and meshed with Autotune to create a product that no longer feels relatable.
After 7’s performance along with Kenny Latimore’s felt real and pure. There was tangible emotion, something I feel is missing from chart-toppers today.
This concert was not a show of gangsters bragging about their cars, cribs, and cuties. Rather, each artist painted the picture of the everyday man pleading for love and praising the love that they attained.
I left uplifted, hopeful that love and sincerity still survives.
The only changes I would make to the show would be slight.
As a real fan of After 7’s music, I REALLY missed Melvin. Jason has done a downright amazing job of filling his father’s shoes. Without question he belongs in the group, but I just missed Melvin as a person and his voice-damn him and that amazing voice. Well, don’t damn him, bless him. I hope he feels well enough to travel with the group again someday soon.
Then if given the chance, I’d force the guys to add the entire Reflections album, the songs Taking My Time (because the vocals are crazy, I mean INSTANE!) Not Enough Hours in the Night, Can He Love You (again, Melvin and thoes vocals) and some of Kevon’s solo work as well- but I digress.
If you are ever given the change to check After 7 or Kenny Lattimore out in concert I suggest you do, it will be one of the most enjoyable nights of your life.
Special Thanks to my partners and colleagues at Access 205 for this amazing experience.
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Note: It is with my deepest regret to report that Melvin Edmonds, founding and orginal After 7 member passed away May 18, 2019 after a long battle with illness. Prayers to the Edmonds family as he will be sorely missed by all who were effected by his life and amazing talent.