- When performing your band live – bring a tight skilled band with you, and make sure they are well rehearsed. This made a world of difference in bringing his best to the songs that we all know and loved. Since he had no BV’s (Backing Vocalists) other than the bass player at a couple of parts, a stripped down BV and percussion track was layered underneath the band acting as their metronome and their guide through the songs. So they had to know their stuff.
- Class is timeless. I remember vaguely a conversation with my friends back in NZ about 17 years ago, and we were talking about which celebrities dress style we wanted to emulate at the time. I remember names like Boyz 2 Men, Big Daddy Kane Bell Biv Devoe and even MC Hammer were tossed around. I remember telling em that I liked the dress style of Babyface and After 7, because they dressed classy. Everyone thought I was wack and an old head. Though the Hammer pants are reemerging I don’t know if I’d wanna wear what BBD was wearing back then.
- Songwriting is where it’s at. The most common comment from concert goers was – I didn’t know he wrote all those songs.
- You limited for time in your performance? Medley up the songs from a particular era – leave em wanting more! The medley for me was most definitely the highlight of the whole show. He took us way back through his days with the Deele (and a hilarious R Kelly short spot) before launching into a medley of songs he wrote around the 87-91 days for other artists beginning with “Two Occasions” and then going through a barrage that included “My, my, my”, “Ready or Not”, “Don’t Be Cruel”, “Roni”, “Rock Witchya” and “End of the Road” amongst others. By doing only a verse, chorus and bridge of each, he had the crowd going wild like a good dj and a tightened mix-tape.
- Engage your audience Most singer/songwriters lose the audience with lengthy song explanations. Babyface engaged us by going chronologically through his life in presenting his songs.
- Take em back and pay tribute to your influences He paid tribute, mentioning Motown artsts, yet covering artists that were only important to him: James Taylor, Eric Clapton (both artists songs featured on works Babyface had done), and of course, Michael Jackson. Each tribute was wonderfully explained in what was happening in his life when he was first influenced by these artists. It also allows for the audience to understand the importance of the influence in their sound.
- Push yourself as a musician to be greater We already knew he was a great pianist and singer. But forgive me for not picking up on his guitar playing swag. Dude can play!
- Unless your name is Michael Jackson, the best musical performances are where the music takes centre stage! Nothing but good music last night – and all who came were indeed fulfilled by a great performance from one of the biggest songwriters of our generation.
One of the best concerts I’ve been to, and yes I’m glad I went to this instead of Breakestra. Not that it would’ve been wack either, but I knew I needed to be at Babyface, and get inspired to write, and stretch myself as a musician, much like Michael did for him.
Thanks Mr Edmonds for influencing me to get busy writing music…