Quiet storm love songs, gospel, rock and even some hip hop were all present during The Isley Brothers’ performance on Sunday November 5th at the world renowned Kennedy Center. The group, now composed of lead singer Ron “Mr. Biggs” Isley and his brother Ernie, showcased numerous hits & personas through the sixty-three year career.
Opening the show with the still relevant “Fight the Power” from their 1975 The Heat Is On album, the night was off to a great start. When you’ve been in the music business for as long as the Isleys have, you have to do your concert in a way that doesn’t leave your fans feeling cheated, which The Isleys pulled off with ease. The brother’s made the wise choice to perform abbreviated versions of their biggest hits, as opposed to full on sections, including up-tempo favorites such as “It’s Your Thing” and “That Lady”.
At the age of seventy-six, Ron Isley still possess a smooth demeanor and sophisticated style that many of today singers could learn from. While Mr. Isley isn’t as strong vocally as he was in his prime, his dedication to his craft more than makes up for it. Mr. Isley was in sync with his band, gave his dancers a chance to show off their talent through numerous costume changes and gave his brother Ernie a chance to shine on the guitar.
While they do have amazing up-tempo tracks, I was always more of a fan of The Isley Brothers’ ballads and slow jams. There are songs that as soon as you hear the opening chords, it just gives you a euphonic feeling. My night was complete when Mr. Isley crooned his way through his many classics such as “For The Love of You”, ‘Make Me Say it Again Girl”, “Groove With You”, “Between The Sheets” and my personal favorite “Choosey Lover”.
Mr. Isley also brought out his alter ego, Mr. Biggs, for a few songs. Mr. Biggs gained prominence in the mid-nineties when R. Kelly featured the brother’s on his third album. Dressed in a red suit with matching fedora, Mr. Biggs commanded the stage. On can’t help but wonder why Kelly and Isley didn’t ever do a film following the Mr. Biggs character…
While The Isleys’ recently released a joint album with Santana earlier this year and Ron has three solo albums to his credit, Sunday night was all about the nostalgia. The Isley Brothers never have to do another piece of new music. With thirty-one albums to their credit, the brothers are truly living legends. As the evening came to an end, the group closed out the show with one of their biggest hits ”Shout”, which was a fitting close to the evening.
Every music fan should have a musical bucket list of artist’s that you must see LIVE at least once in your life. I can now cross The Isley Brothers off of my list.