Never in a million years did I think I would ever go to a New Edition concert. But there I was, at the Gibson Amphitheatre all in the mix with the New Edition fans. The audience looked what I imagined what my twenty-year high school reunion would look like. I was in junior high when “Candy Girl” came out and in high school when “Cool It Now,” “Mr. Telephone Man” and the other NE classics came out. I've told my young friends who are into the whole 80’s retro culture and were lucky to be no more than a child during that era that the eighties were not kind. Not only were the clothes, haircuts and the music hideous, growing up in the conservative Reagan era was no fun at all. It was Punk Rock and Hip-Hop that got me through the eighties, because for me, 80’s pop culture was as Joe Strummer called it, a "hamburger culture.” I felt I was force-fed mass marketed pieces of garbage and told it was nutritious. During the eighties, I felt empty and hungry for more, much more.
Still, I had a soft spot for NE because buried underneath the 80’s gobble-goop production there were great R&B songs. Their songs I imagined could have been performed by the likes of Smokey Robinson or The Temptations. Even when Ralph Tresvant would break out into his primeval raps, it wasn’t much different from the breakdowns of the Motown and Stax artists of the past. The fruit never fell too far from the tree as far as NE was concerned.
It was the complete line-up for New Edition at the Gibson, the OG’s and the replacements. For the most part the guys looked great and sounded flawless. All the guys hit the stage running, minus one Bobby Brown. Everyone was anticipating the unpredictable Mr. Brown’s arrive. Was he going to be performing tonight? No one seemed to know. In my mind if he didn’t show he wouldn’t have been missed. Johnny Gill, who replaced Bobby Brown back in 1987, sounded better than Bobby in his prime. They did all the NE big hits in the beginning, before they broke into Bell Biv DeVoe songs as well. It was then that Bobby Brown came out. The audience went crazy. There was a 40ish women seated behind who let out a big scream when he came out, like as if she were in junior high again. Her friends laughed at her when she did this. She screamed to her friends:
“I DON’T CARE, I LOVE THAT CRACK-SMOKING M*^THERF*&KER!”
I almost died with laughter when she said that, it was a sentiment that seemed to be shared by the entire audience that was at the show. We all love our Bobby Brown, crack smoking and all. It was a premature ovation for Brown, as he could not hang with the rest of the guys. His voice was shot and he looked 50 when the rest of the guys look like they are in their early 30’s. If one needs a poster child to help them stop using drugs, Bobby's it. On top of that, Tresvant and Gill gave Bobby a vocal bitch slapping the rest of the night. I felt somewhat sorry for Bobby. He was no longer on par with the rest of NE.
The show ended with a strong rendition of the Bell Biv DeVoe classic “Poison,” followed by Bobby’s embarrassingly dated, “My Prerogative.” Still, it was much fun, watching people travel down memory lane and creating new "member when?” memories with my friends that I went to the show with. Thanks to Amoeba’s hardest working employee and part-time Amoeba heart throb Miguel for scoring the tickets for my friends and I.