Almost three years to the day since he beat the massive child molestation charges brought against him by an alleged taped rendezvous with a teenage girl, the Chicago native appeared rejuvenated and unmoved by the salacious headlines that have plagued him in recent years. Bringing Marsha Ambrosious and Keyshia Cole along as opening acts, Kellz set out to remind his fans why he wears the crown as "the king of R&B," and rightfully so.
Ambrosious kicked things off with tracks from her 'Late Nights and Early Mornings' debut and the song 'Say Yes,' from her Floetry days, before passing the baton to Cole, who hit the stage performing singles from all four of her albums. Yet it wasn't until Kelly hit the stage that the entire crowd rose to their feet -- and stayed there for most of his nearly two hour set.
Beginning with a '40s-style black-and-white movie montage, Kelly emerged from the darkness in a black suit and red scarf, soaking up the audience's adoration for a full minute before launching into his first song of the night: 'Step in the Name of Love.'
From there, the 44-year-old set out to cover over two decades of success in the realm of a couple of hours, doing his best to run through hits like 'Chocolate Factory,' 'Strip for You,' and 'Hotel,' before breaking into the classics that made him famous. "I'm 22 years in this business, I'm not really worried about the criticism," he declared in a separate video clip that found him in the midst of reporters before taking fans back in time singing everything from 'Seems Like Your Ready' to 'Bump and Grind' to 'Down Low.' He received a roaring response from the audience as a result. "I'm glad ya'll appreciate the sexual songs," he said. "They told me not to put the sexual songs in there."
Things took a decidedly sentimental turn when Kelly showcased a "love letter" from his mother, Joanne, who died in 1993. He then ended the show with his rendition of Frank Sinatra's 'My Way.'
The Love Letter tour hits Chicago June 16 before ending July 3 at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia.
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