Teddy Riley, Guy recover from shaky start for triumphant return at '90s Block Party' tour in NYC
Monica, Ginuwine, Next perform too as Jagged Edge and 112 join forces for an innovative set.
A dream come true nearly turned into a nightmare on Saturday night (March 10) at Madison Square Garden’s Hulu Theater. Guy, one of the most trailblazing groups in R&B history, came back to their hometown for a triumphant set as the headliners of the ’90s Block Party’ Tour—featuring 112, Jagged Edge, Monica, Ginuwine and Next—but things got off to a rough start when lead singer Aaron Hall started struggling on one of his solo signature records, classic ballad “I Miss You.”
“We used to talk / And laugh all night, girl,” Hall began to sing, his voice extremely hoarse. It jarred the audience and even Hall himself looked surprised. He walked around the stage while the music played and made more attempts to sync with the record, but to the same results. His voice didn’t sound like the golden soul we all knew and loved him for and, after negative feedback from some of the crowd, Hall simply walked off the stage.
Teddy Riley, however, kept the show going, asking the crowd if they’d ever missed someone.
Soon after, Hall returned, walking into the crowd for one of Guy’s most beloved treasures, “Goodbye Love,” his voice sounding the way we knew it could. And this time, the audience sang along: “But fairy tales don’t always come true / You promised to stay with me, I promised to stay with you / I guess you knew and blew a good thing, baby / ‘Cause I’m saying bye bye.”
The 180-degree turn garnered a huge grin from the “Nasty Man”-nicknamed singer as he stood among the people. Building on the moment, Hall continued to sing among the fans for follow-up “Piece of My Love.” Minutes later, he joined his brother Damion and Riley onstage, revealing to audience that, at 53 years old, he had had a surgery that was causing the “Nasty Man to be not-so-Nasty tonight.”
The attention eventually switched to Riley, one of music’s all-time premiere songwriters and producers. His New Jack Swing genre helped mold a generation as he crafted defining hits for the likes of Bobby Brown, Kool Moe Dee, Keith Sweat, Big Daddy Kane, Michael Jackson, Heavy D, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, Guy, and so many others. In fact, Riley announced that most of those acts would be accompanying him on an upcoming ‘New Jack Swing’ tour.
Riley went into his chamber, first with “Teddy’s Jam,” and then with his verses from Wreckx-n-Effect’s “Rumpshaker” and Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.”
Guy dug back into their catalog for “Let’s Chill” and “I Like” before closing out with a cover of The Gap Band’s “Yearning For Your Love.”
“Last time we were here, we broke up,” Riley told the crowd. “Look at us now. God picks the time for us to shine.”
Elsewhere in the show, it was Next who kicked off the concert and set the tone with “Too Close,” and kept the party moving to their closeout “Wifey.” Monica, wearing all white, sounded better than her recordings, giving the audience a bevy of her gems including “Before You Walk Out My Life,” “Don’t Take It Personal” and “So Gone.” Ginuwine’s energy was electric as he gave the crowd satisfying tidbits of his time-tested tunes like “Same Old G” and “Stingy.” He called a woman to the stage to serenade her with “In Those Jeans” and entered the audience to sing closer “Pony.” 112 and Jagged Edge combined their catalogs into one, for the most innovate set of the night, and debunking years-long rumors of a friendly rivalry between the two Atlanta-bred groups. With both groups wearing all-white, and joining one another for each other’s choreography, the men sang J.E.’s “Let’s Get Married,” “Gotta Be,” and “He Can’t Love You” while 112 delivered “Dance With Me” and “Anywhere” before closing with their respective party anthems, “Where the Party At” and “Peaches and Cream.”
The ’90s Block Party’ Tour runs through April in North America.