For two consecutive weeknights at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA, the legendary Stephanie Mills and her all-male band brought the heat to R&B music lovers in the Metro DC area, as she performed her most-requested songs from an extensive string of hits and soul classics.
Mills looked fabulous, and sounded as great as she did when she recorded those songs on hot wax many years ago. The after-work crowd sang along, and some even got up on their feet and jammed their way back down memory lane to “Something In The Way You Make Me Feel,” “Sweet Sensation,” “You Put A Little Rush On Me,” “Whatcha Gonna Do With My Lovin’?,” and the ever-funky, “Put Your Body In It.” Even Stephanie, on a slightly hurt knee, let the music take control, and shook and shimmied from one end of the stage to the other in her high heels.
After slowing the tempo to set the mood, she stretched out and went to work on those timeless ballads her adoring fans were waiting to hear with great anticipation: “Starlight,” (a song she added back into her set after a woman approached her while shopping at Target, complaining that she'd never heard her sing it at any Stephanie Mills show she ever attended), the seductive “Jesse,” and sassy “Keep Away Girls,” the torchy “Secret Lady,” and spine-tingling “I Feel Good All Over,” as well as a pretty Kenny Loggins offering, “Give It Half A Chance,” and the smoldering “Feel The Fire,” which received rave reaction from the audience.
She also took requests from the audience, and performed snippets of them all a capella -- classics such as “Deeper Inside Your Love,” “Night Games,” “I Just Wanna Say,” “If I Were Your Woman,” “ Power of Love,” and “You And I.” A humorous moment during the set came when a lady in the audience requested the song “Eternal Love.” Stephanie was unable to remember the lyrics to the song, so she asked the lady to sing it to her, with the hope of jarring her memory, which she bravely did. Still, nothing much connected; Stephanie, being real (and classy), finally surrendered, and then gave the lady a well-deserved long-stemmed red rose as a token of her appreciation for her valiant effort.
Saving the best for last, she introduced her smoking hot band, and went on to end her set with the touching musical tribute, “I’ll Be There,” to the late Michael Jackson, and then brought it 'Home,' singing out to the spirits of some of the R&B/soul legends we lost: Gerald Levert, James Brown, Luther Vandross, Teena Marie--and brought the crowd to their feet in honor of them. It was a very special and moving moment, and a more than fitting way to end the show, and a pre-Hump Day workday.
About the Writer
Holly Fountain is a music and concert enthusiast and an avid collector of vinyl and CD’s from the 60’s and '70s. In her spare time, she enjoys writing concert reviews in her own entertaining and unconventional style.