Concert review and photos: R. Kelly concentrates on sex at Fox Theatre show


BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene

Although R. Kelly played Atlanta a few months ago as part of his “Buffet” tour , the King of R&B is always a popular draw in the city that he occasionally calls home.

His quick run of December dates designed to supplement his “12 Nights of Christmas” album ended with a Tuesday night stop at a sold-out Fox Theatre, where Kelly instigated fans to wave their cell phones in the air, sing along to his dozens of hits – some snippets, some full length – and in one instance, rub the parts of his body you would expect R. Kelly to want rubbed.

Here are three takeaways from his latest Atlanta performance.

1. If you came expecting a mature evening of Kelly’s Christmas songs ( his “12 Nights of Christmas,” a collection of all-originals, is quite good) and maybe a few of the hits that are safe to play in front of your mom, well, your night didn’t go as planned.

Oh, there was a Christmas tree, a fake fireplace, some holiday-themed visuals and the gliding R&B song “Home for Christmas.” But this Kelly, who strode onstage with a microphone in one hand and a stogie in the other, declared early that he was “drunk as hell,” used a bounty of expletives during his incessant talking between and during songs and, for the first hour of the show, concentrated on sex-obsessed grooves including “The Zoo,” “Strip for You” and “Feelin’ on Yo Booty.”

He also wasted time talking about how good of a show he planned to put on for his fans (here’s an idea, just put on the show) and how “Kellz” (yes, he’s a third-person referencer) was given the rundown backstage about “What I can say, what I can’t say. What I can touch, what I can’t touch.”

2. More than two decades into his career, Kelly still possesses a gorgeous, creamy voice that dips and soars magnificently. It’s too bad we couldn’t hear it over a live band instead of tracks packed with the kind of wincing bass that would knock you off of a speaker riser (Kelly indicated in our recent interview that he would have a band, but one wasn’t visible). On some songs – “Bump N’ Grind,” “Down Low” – Kelly allowed fans to handle the heavy lifting, which they did with apparent joy.

3. While the first chunk of Kelly’s show focused on his favorite topic - the sex shtick has always been an R. Kelly hallmark - he eventually dove into radio-friendly fare including the irresistible “Ignition” (and its rap “Remix”) and other 2000s-era hits, “Fiesta” and ‘I’m a Flirt.” No doubt he’s a tremendous songwriter with infinite ambition – but for a guy about to turn 50, maybe it’s time to tone down the lewdness just a tad.

Follow the AJC Music Scene on Twitter and Facebook.


Reader Comments


Next Up in Atlanta Music Scene

Chrissy Teigen's dad shows his love with a tattoo of her face for her birthday
Chrissy Teigen's dad shows his love with a tattoo of her face for her birthday

As a birthday present, Chrissy Teigen's dad got a tattoo. That's not at all an unusual way to mark the years.  But this tattoo was of Teigen's face on his arm for her 33rd birthday. The former model and entrepreneur was thrilled. She captioned an Instagram post in all caps, "MY DAD GOT A TATTOO OF ME FOR MY BIRTHDAY."...
Those vintage ceramic Christmas trees you kept might be worth money now
Those vintage ceramic Christmas trees you kept might be worth money now

Ceramic Christmas trees were big in the 1960s and ‘70s. Now, those retro trees are making a comeback.  Vintage lifestyle expert Bob Richter told Today Home the trees spike in popularity every year around Christmas. They’re small, no-fuss, easy Christmas decorations. “People put them on top of the television, back when the...
Irreversible muscle damage linked to statins

Q: Several weeks ago, you wrote about the side effects of cholesterol-lowering statin medicines. According to the article, these drugs can attack muscle tissue, and the damage may be irreversible. That is what happened to me. I now need to use a cane when I walk, and I worry that someday I might need a wheelchair. I took statins for only a short time...
Where to find snow and fun near Atlanta this holiday season 
Where to find snow and fun near Atlanta this holiday season 

More than just a song about the ones you used to know, a white Christmas can be magical. Snowflakes create the chance for snowball fights, fireside romance and everything in between. Living in Georgia, though, means a winter wonderland isn't very likely – and you might be stuck in traffic anyway. Luckily, if you've got your two front teeth...
Venues offer programs, tools for kids with autism or sensory disorders
Venues offer programs, tools for kids with autism or sensory disorders

Debbie Newton wants her son, Dorian, to experience everything life has to offer — just like any other child. Movies. Plays. Children’s concerts. Even a visit with Santa. Those simple activities, though, can be challenging for parents of children with autism. Dorian, 6, was diagnosed with autism about six months ago. Two of Newton&rsquo...
More Stories