Music Reviews

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Madison Square Garden, New York
Monday, Jan. 22


Did you know that Jamie Foxx is an Oscar winner?

Apparently, the actor-singer thinks that more than a few of us don't because he repeatedly announced the fact throughout his concert Monday at Madison Square Garden, part of a tour to promote his multiple-Grammy-nominated album "Unpredictable." Of course, just to show he's not putting on airs, he follows each pronouncement with the phrase, "But I'm a nigga, too."

Foxx divides his show into two sections: an opening stand-up comedy routine followed by a musical performance featuring a full band, backup singers and scantily clad dancers.

It's too bad that Foxx the comedian can't watch Foxx the singer because he would be able to garner some amusing material. His stand-up segment is almost entirely focused on celebrity foibles, skewering such figures as Michael Richards, O.J., Oprah, Prince and Britney -- the latter in a truly hilarious bit in which he does a physical imitation of her private parts or, as he calls it, her "cootenanny."

But his comic irony seemed to desert him in the concert segment, when he dons a white suit and shades and becomes the prototypical R&B wooer. "Fellas, you could stick around if you want to, but this is for the ladies," he accurately informed us. A photo montage detailed his accomplishments, including his many magazine covers.

Sporting a voice with a fair amount of range and a more than decent falsetto, he proceeded to deliver such hits as "Three Letter Word" (you can probably guess what it is), "Storm (Forcass)," "Love Changes" and "DJ Play a Love Song." These were accompanied by gimmicky bits of staging, including one of the dancers writhing suggestively on a couch, another doing a pole dance and, for "Get This Money," fake bills showering on the crowd.

An ill-advised segment featured him reprising his Ray Charles impersonation, performing such classics as "Georgia on My Mind" and "What'd I Say" in full Charles regalia while seated at a white piano in the center of the arena.

The schizophrenic nature of the show, while it admittedly succeeded in spotlighting his considerable range of talents, ultimately proved too disconcerting to be successful.

Opening act Fantasia delivered a brief set encompassing original numbers from her debut album and covers of such songs as "Tell Me Something Good" and "Purple Rain." (Prefacing her delivery of Gershwin's "Summertime," she announced, "I wanna take you back to my 'Idol' days," as if it was ancient history.) While the singer possesses a powerful voice, her unrestrained vocals and over-emotive delivery soon proved monotonous, seeming to exhaust the audience as much as herself.

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