The Colors of Christmas 12/22/2004 - Fox Cities Performing Arts Center - Appleton, WI
The Colors of Christmas tour debuted this year in Appleton at the Fox Center for the first time since it's creation. The artists on the tour this year were Peabo Bryson, En Vogue, James Ingram, and Marilyn McCoo. For those unfamiliar with the concert, they place several known singers together and sing a combination of Christmas songs along with some of their hits. These are normally artists that have already peaked in their career (from previous decades), yet have their own place in music history.
Peabo Bryson, a staple of the Colors of Christmas, is really the glue that holds this show together. He has several hit songs that have either produced Grammy nominations or Grammys themselves (ie: Disney songs "Beauty and the Beast" and "A Whole New World"), and he is a charmer. Every year he will flirt with the ladies in the crowd and talk about world peace, and the crowd eats it up. He's a strong singer, and he's smooth.
En Vogue, once on top of the charts in the 90's, seemed to have disappeared out of the spotlight for the most part. Now only a trio, I was not impressed with their performance on this tour. When they were providing background harmony for the other performers, they sounded fine. But when they preformed their hit songs they are known for, they fell short. Maybe it was because they were missing the 4th member, or maybe it was because most of the songs weren't appropriate for a "Christmas tour" setting. Either way, they were the weak link on this tour.
James Ingram was an artist that I was the least familiar with. I recognized his name, but could not think of a song that he sang. After hearing his hits, I definitely knew them, as well as his voice. He is very comparable to Peabo with a strong vocal style, yet he lacks the stage presence that Peabo has. He was a little stiff, yet his voice was still in fine form. His high point of the night was when he sang his hit "I Don't Have The Heart".
My knowledge of Marilyn McCoo comes from watching her on the television show Solid Gold in the '80s. Her hit that she performed was the "Wedding Bell Blues", another song that didn't fit with the Christmas-themed concert. The most notable thing to mention of her performance is her outfits, which were more bizarre than classy.
The high point of the concert was a duet between Peabo and James, singing the upbeat "Ya Mo Be There", which was originally a duet between James and Michael McDonald. This rendition was alive and upbeat, getting everyone on their feet and clapping along. Again, a song that seemed to be out of place at a Christmas concert, but it did wake the audience up.
The low point was directly after "Ya Mo Be There", as En Vogue begged people to stay on their feet and continue to clap. Going into this concert, I joked about hearing En Vogue's biggest hit, "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)". As the song started, many in the crowd cringed along with me and proceeded to sit down. If there was a list of 101 songs never to play during a Christmas concert, this song dentately would be # 1! To add insult to injury, they recruited Marilyn to help sing the acappella break-down in the middle of the song. To see the 61 year old crooner wagging her finger to the audience singing "You're never gonna get it!", made me feel about as uncomfortable as a teenager being lectured about sex from his grandmother.
The Colors of Christmas tour has many successful years under their belt, combining diverse talent with some great music. But after viewing the latest installment of this tour, it looks as if they are scraping the bottom of the musical barrel. It might be time to retire this tour, but we'll see what next year brings.