Live: Maze And Frankie Beverly Bring Their Party To Brooklyn


Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly
Wingate Field
Monday, July 11

Better than: Singing along drunkenly with friends to "Before I Let Go."

The banner hanging above the stage read "Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series," but the crowd on display was anything but the vision Dr. King once said he dreamed about in his famous 1963 "I Have A Dream" speech. Dr. King dreamed of "little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers," but last night at Wingate Field, there weren't many white girls or white boys amidst the sea of black people who came to see Maze featuring Frankie Beverly kick off this year's edition of the summer concert series.

Here, the "post-racial" concept did not exist, unless we count Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, who was there to preside over the night's proceedings. No doubt, love for country was on full display as the crowd joined together to sing the national anthem before the show got started, but there was also a sentiment of racial pride declared too when the assembled immediately broke into James Weldon Johnson's "Lift Every Voice and Sing," a song often referred to as the Black National Anthem.

But enjoying Maze and Frankie Beverly is not about loving your race so much as it is about loving R&B. The group is that "I didn't know they sang that song"-type of collective; even black folks are more familiar with songs like "Happy People" and "Golden Time Of Day"—both of which they performed in an excellent show that ran somewhere around 90-minutes—than the band itself. Maze's true fans are R&B aficionados who come from all backgrounds, the band's following so cultlike even Frankie couldn't help but poke fun at the people who applauded and cheered when he asked how many in the crowd were seeing them for the very first time. "We only been around for like 45 years or something," he said, laughing. "What's wrong with you all?"

Still, even the rookies knew the drill:

  • No dress code required, but it's preferred you come in all white like Frankie seems to for every one of his concerts.
  • You can feel free to enjoy the show sitting down, but don't you dare ask the people dancing in front of you to sit down.
  • Know the words to the songs specifically "Joy and Pain" and "Before I Let Go" because it is on these two songs specifically, Maze and Frankie will cut out to let the crowd sing their choruses.

    That's the beauty of a Maze featuring Frankie Beverly show: The crowd knows exactly what they are getting and the band knows exactly what to give. The group hasn't put out an album since 1993, but it's evident they don't need to. Frankie himself can mumble the lyrics to half his catalog in his guttural drawl and the audience is more than happy to sing along with him because his voice has aged so nicely. What was once a reassuring alto reminiscent of your cool uncle who sang at all the family gatherings now has a raspy, smoky grandfather-like sheen, bringing a husky beauty to ballads like "We Are One."

    As the band closed out their set with "Before I Let Go"—a song that has become as synonymous with barbecues as a grill—the young and the old, the mostly black but also white, brown and even yellow, sang along loudly and danced along proudly. They just saw a classy, solid Maze featuring Frankie Beverly concert on a beautiful summer night in Brooklyn—a dream come true for every R&B fan in attendance.

    Critical bias: I'm no rookie at a Frankie Beverly and Maze show as I've seen them three times before, but never in New York City.

    Overheard: "You know, Marvin Gaye discovered them, but I once saw them open up for Marvin, and by the time they were done, the audience was worn out. There was nothing left for Marvin!"—said by an older gentleman as he was walking out of the park.

    Random notebook dump: Frankie Beverly looks like he still does push-ups every morning and in the words of Bernie Mac, "will bust your head to the white meat shows." His beard has also gone white, thus making it an unintentionally perfect accessory.

    Set list:
    Laid Back Girl
    Southern Girl
    I Want To Feel I'm Wanted
    We Are One
    It Makes Me Feel So Bad
    Running Away
    Golden Time of Day
    The Morning After
    Back In Stride Again
    While I'm Alone
    Happy Feelings
    Joy and Pain
    Before I Let Go
    I Wanna Thank You



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    3 comments
    Rhotprincess
    Rhotprincess

    Wow, the first paragraph seems a little "Racist" to me. The Borough President was not the only person not of color amidst the crowd, stop it. It is however a predominently African American neighborhood on a hot July day.

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    Here is a similar story

    Frankie Beverly, founder of the veteran soul/R&B group Maze,advises aspiring songwriters and performers looking for a long,fruitful career to focus on the songs first and foremost.

    "The one element that has to be there is you have to really lovethe music and to be good at what you do," he said. "Anybody that'sbeen around for 30, 40 years has got to be good with the music, andthat's the bottom line."

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