Review: Tyrese heats up 95.7 Beats by the Bay at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg
As the clock ticked hard toward a 10 p.m. curfew, Tyrese did what Tyrese does, and made the nervous crowd feel just fine.
“They’re telling me that if I go overtime, somebody’s gotta pay,” the actor and singer said with a debonair shrug. “F--- it. I got it.”
And so the inaugural 95.7 Beats by the Bay festival rolled on, our charismatic Hollywood hero at the helm.
In the end, the event did run long by about 7 minutes, and there’s no telling how much that’ll cost the dashing Mr. Gibson. But maybe the city of St. Petresburg’ll cut him a deal. He did, after all, draw a crowd of at least 8,000 to Vinoy Park on a perfect autumn Saturday for a day of upbeat R&B that bridged the old school and the new.
City officials knew it, too. Mayor Rick Kriseman and Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin were on hand to officially proclaim Saturday “Beats By the Bay Day” in St. Pete, “in honor of all that’s cool and hot and funky,” Tomalin said.
“This is what St. Petersburg is all about,” Kriseman told the crowd, before donning a 95.7 The Beat T-shirt emblazoned with the handle “Mayor K.”
Tyrese, the chiseled former model from the Fast and Furious franchise, went with something a little more formal.
“I told my stylist, What the f-- you put me in a mink for? We going to Florida,” he said. Well, to say he wore it well would be an understatement. Dude could faceplant into a waffle iron and still put the rest of us mortals to shame. An Adonis like that can afford to strut around the stage, kissing and tossing roses like he’s God’s gift to women, because frankly, what woman would argue?
Tyrese knows where his body is buttered, too. When he kept noticing anxious glances from the clock-watchers back stage, he implored the ladies in the house: “Tell ’em to leave my Tyrese alone.”
Leave my Tyrese alone!
“Tell ‘em again!”
Leave my Tyrese alone!
“I don’t think you want to mess with these ladies out here tonight. They got fingernails. They’ll scratch your ass up.”
Yeah, sure, he sang, too, and his pained moan more than got the job done on slow jams Sweet Lady and Signs of Making Love. But it was his one-man-showmanship as a ringleader and raconteur that most carried the night – especially when, late in the show, he hopped offstage and planted himself in the center of the crowd to sing Stay and the hit Shame, from his chart-topping summer album Black Rose. Considering Tyrese is basically a sentient human pheromone, you can imagine about how that went.
If Tyrese brought heat to Beats by the Bay, Anthony Hamilton brought the fire. The North Carolina soul singer worked the stage like a minister at a revival, dancing, grinning and tightroping the edge of the stage on the crackling Feel Like Falling In Love and Cool. When he pulled back for smoother numbers like the delicate, anguished The Point Of It All and simmering Charlene.
“It’s an evening of good music, baby,” Hamilton said. “Good people, good time.”
Before him, Blackstreet and Teddy Riley teamed up for a predictably satisfying live rendition of their monster 1996 hit No Diggity. But Riley just about stole the show with a swinging solo set covering some of his many hits as a songwriter and producer – Michael Jackson’s Jam and Remember The Time, Heavy D and the Boyz’ Now That We Found Love, Wreckx-N-Effect’s Rump Shaker. (“I know Tampa know that record,” he said.)
Riley suggested he might come back next year and headline the whole festival with a super-set encompassing all his collaborators and side projects – Blackstreet, Guy, Kool Moe Dee, Doug E. Fresh, Wreckx-N-Effect.
If that happens, The Beat might want to try to push that city curfew back to 10:30 p.m. Tyrese won’t always be here to save us.
-- Jay Cridlin