|Chris Brown. (WENN.COM file photo)
TORONTO - For the last few years, hip-hop artist and rapper Chris Brown has tried to distance himself from that incident which endeared him to absolutely nobody. So why was it that Rihanna's Hey Boy was briefly blaring on the sound system before the concert began is puzzling to be sure.
However, the 22-year-old musician made a rebound of sorts with his latest album F.A.M.E. which sees him tapping into dance music with better than expected results.
And with the whole package in terms of dancing, performing and general showmanship, he has plenty of time to turn the page as was the case on the North American opening date Monday night at Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre before a crowd that filled most of the seated area and a smattering on the lawns.
With a video montage of his career thus far – well, all the good parts – Brown emerged from a large, multi-level stage the venue has rarely housed. Flanked by several backing dancers and with his band and two backing vocalists on the main floor, Brown commenced the roughly 90-minute gig with Say It With Me off the latest album.
The crowd teeming with young shriek-addicted girls showed Brown love all night, even tossing a couple of bras onstage near the end. The lone time he ventured near the barricade in front, his glad-handing was met by a strong-arm fan who nearly pulled him down.
Removing his shirt often to show off his sculptured, tattooed torso, Brown made the most of songs such as Wet The Bed (which had him on top of a seated girl onstage) and No Bulls—t, the latter oozing sex appeal but perhaps a tad cruder than usual.
“Toronto! Welcome to the motherf------ F.A.M.E. tour,” Brown said, adding that it was six years since his last Canadian concert. Taking in all the applause, he carried on with the Usher-ish Run It with more tight choreography and thrusts which the ladies lapped up.
Starting strong early with I Can Transform You and Wall To Wall, Brown would occasionally bring things to a crawl with breathers for costume changes as his DJ tried in desperation to keep the momentum. Yet Brown's smooth R&B tunes such as Yo (Excuse Me Miss) and She Ain't You caused a mix of singing and screaming from fans.
With homemade posters saying Team Breezy near the front, Brown showed the dance-oriented evolution on Oh My Love, Yeah 3x which brought the house down as did Beautiful People. And the ballads were covered as well with No Air, his duet with American Idol contestant Jordin Sparks.
Earlier in the night, former Destiny's Child member Kelly Rowland dazzled with a mix of songs off her new album as well as some former staples from her days with Miss Jay-Z, er, Knowles with highlights being I'm Dat Chick, Commander and Lay It On Me.
Meanwhile T-Pain, trying to shed his Auto-Tune image, was hit-and-miss for most of his set. If a return to Auto-Tune meant less horrid stabs at choreography as was the case throughout then he has my vote.