Boyz II Men

Boyz II Men Friday night at The Fox Theatre.

Photo by Lawrence Bryant

Veteran music trio Boyz II Men gave fans a completely show from the suited up, meticulously tailored show that they’ve brought to St. Louis in recent years with their visit to the Fox Friday night. The structured but enjoyable performance they usually serve up that highlights the group’s sophistication and maturity on stage was traded for an energetic, casual and quick evening of pop-friendly R&B.

In varied but coordinated all-white outfits that included white jeans and sneakers Boyz II Men kept it casual – and started the show by dancing their way through their breakthrough hit “Motownphilly” from their debut album “Cooleyhighharmony.” They applied the same level of energy to the choreography as they did when the song debut nearly 30 years ago and made them an instant hit on the R&B scene – thanks in part to the endorsement of New Edition and Bell Biv DeVoe alum Michael Bivins, who introduced the group to music scene when they were barely out of high school.

Actually, group member Wanya Morris was more hype than he was back then.

Fellow group member Shawn Stockman jokingly attributed Wanya Morris’ high impact performance to his participation on ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars.”

The humor – which also included Nathan signaling to his blinged out watch as a fan made her way to her seats near the front row more than 30 minutes into their performance – the ease and the chill vibe that continued over the unusually brief, but satisfying show was a welcomed change of pace.

They tapped into the group’s golden era – and the audience seemed to love every second of the show that clocked just under 70 minutes.

Ballads “On Bended Knee,” “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye to Yesterday” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness” followed “Motownphilly.”

They took things back up tempo with a surprising change of pace. The vocal trio flipped the script with a segment as the Boyz II Men band with Stockman hopping on the guitar and Nathan Morris joining him on the bass. Wanya led vocal performances of Bob Marley’s “Jamming,” Lenny Kravitz’s “Are You Gonna Go My Way” and his version of “American Woman,” Bruno Mars’ “Locked Out Of Heaven” and closed things out with The Beatles’ “Come Together.” Both Stockman and Nathan were extremely proficient on the instruments- with Stockman serving up a riff or two.

After the unexpected change of pace for the group, they jumped right back into Boyz II Men business as usual with “Doin’ Just Fine” and their cover of Journey’s soft rock classic “Open Arms.”

They closed the show with a segment they designated for “Boyz II Men” classics – with Stockman saying that the songs were made classic by the fans’ dedication to the crop of tunes by playing them “over, and over, and over...and over.”

“Water Runs Dry” kicked off the Boyz II Men classic roster, which continued with “I’ll Make Love to You,” and “A Song For Mama.” The portion of the show was briefly interrupted as Nathan, backed by the audience, sang “Happy Birthday” to Stockman.

The audience’s vocal support continued as the women in the crowd eagerly answered the call to handle Mariah Carey’s vocal parts during their performance of the smash duet “One Sweet Day.” The group was visibly struck by how masterfully the audience delivered every note and intricate run on pitch while performing as the Mariah Carey choir for the song that spent an astonishing 16 weeks atop the Billboard singles chart. The song gave Carey and Boyz II Men the distinction of longest running number one for nearly a quarter-century – and was only recently broken by Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road” two months ago.

Boyz II Men closed the classics – and short show – with another long-running number one, their hit “End of The Road.” The song from the “Boomerang” soundtrack briefly held the record for longest running number one single at 13 weeks until Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” took the crown from them later in 1994.

The appropriate finale was a fitting end to a solid and surprisingly retrospective show – that could have seen them do a few more of their hits for the sake of the super fans that filled up The Fox.

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