R&B crooner Jon B. brought his soulful sound to the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club located in Bethesda, MD, on 3 February. Dressed in a sleek, black, two-piece suit, Jon joked with his audience that he’s a grown man now and he needs to dress like one. When I go to an R&B concert, one of my biggest gripes is seeing the talent dressed in baggy jeans or a t-shirt. Thankfully, Jon created a grown and sexy atmosphere.
Hearing Jon play the piano, one of the staples of his live shows, is always great. Opening the show with his classic Babyface collaboration, “Someone to Love,” Jon showed that he hadn’t lost a step in his twenty-three-year career. After this smooth opening, he transitioned his way to a medley of songs that he grew up singing, touching on hits from The Gap Band to —my personal favorite— New Edition. Following the cover medley, Jon went back to his six-album catalog, performing various hits: “Are U Still Down” feat. Tupac, “Pretty Girl”, “Don’t Say”, and “Cool Relax.”
During the performance of “Cool Relax,” Jon told the story of how he worked with The Ummah to produce the song. The Ummah were a music production collective composed of members Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad of A Tribe Called Quest, and the late J. Dilla. This anecdote was one of the night’s highlights because I am a huge Tribe fan and had no idea they produced the song.
Like most concerts I attend, I have to hear that one special song. From Jon B., it has to be “They Don’t Know”. Twenty-years later, the song still sounds as fresh as it did when it released in 1998. Jon, in my opinion, has always had a natural, soulful sound; sadly, he doesn’t get the mainstream credit that he deserves.
I also want to give credit to Jon for performing another one of my favorites “I Ain’t Going Out” from his sophomore album Cool Relax. I have always felt that the song should be on every married man’s playlist because while we may like to kick-it with the fellas, there’s nothing like spending a night at home with the Mrs.
If I had one complaint about the show, it would be the runtime. As a die-hard fan, I know how impressive Jon B.’s catalog is. I would have loved to hear Drake’s mash-up “Cameras”, which sampled Jon’s “Calling on You”off of the vastly underrated 2001 release Pleasures U Like.
Nevertheless, it was a great show. I hope the next time Jon B. comes to town, you check him out. He is one of the best performers in an intimate setting.
Final Grade: A