A Firsthand Account of What You Can Expect From R. Kelly's Single Ladies Tour

Categories: Appreciations

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Todd Owyoung

R. Kelly brings a single lady on stage, and two men dressed in white lab coats bring her a clipboard and a pen. She signs the waiver and is brought into a white cage the crew snuck on stage while Kelly briefly roamed the audience. The men tie her arms and legs in chains attached to the cage, Kelly enters and a white sheet drapes over the cage. The band keeps playing and the cage starts rocking. The cage becomes backlit and we see the outline of Kelly freaking on the volunteer. More rocking, more freaking, and when the sheet is removed, Kelly and the lady both act ashamed.

R. Kelly says the word booga a few dozen times in a row and then sings an operatic hymn in perfect Italian with no introduction before or explanation after.
R. Kelly announces a segment called "R. Kelly Karaoke." The crew brings six microphones on stands out and faces them toward the seats. Kelly sits down at the miniature "Singles Bar" set up on the side of the stage, lights a cigar, and sips a cocktail. Meanwhile, "R. Kelly Karaoke" is essentially Kelly hanging out listening to clips of the actual recordings of his songs while the audience haphazardly sings along. One song in the set is "Bump N Grind," a song he has already performed twice this evening.

R. Kelly, only a few minutes after the most intense session of having his junk rubbed like it was a good luck charm, sings "I Wish" as a tribute to his mom. The song breaks down and Kelly dramatically sings "I wish...I could play music until Jesus comes back" and "I wish...my kids would listen to me when I tell them to get off the damn phone" and "I wish...I could get a hug, like a big momma hug right now" and "I wish...Obama could be president forever. We did it again, y'all!"

R. Kelly has one completely serious moment with "I Believe I Can Fly." The song is as schmaltzy as it gets, but its ability to move so many members of the audience is impressive. The power of the song is infectious. It's easy to be distracted by R. Kelly's scandals, his idiosyncrasies, and his frequent decision to rhyme a word with that same word, but behind all that baggage, he has a voice that could make an angel jealous. Or, could make a normally sane woman want to rub his crotch in front of three thousand people.

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Madison Square Garden

Seventh Ave. & 32nd St., New York, NY

Category: General

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