R&B fans were fleeced at the VooDoo on Thursday. The least expensive tickets to the co-headlining concert by Lloyd and J. Holiday were $38.50.
Each man made a paltry 30 minute appearance. An acoustic guitar cradled by Lloyd for a few minutes aside, the vocalists performed to pre-recorded backing tracks.
Each man released a hit album in 2007. Neither has been able to replicate the success they experienced in the previous decade. The 600 loyalists at the show weren’t provided with convincing reasons to continue supporting either artist.
The Atlanta-based Lloyd addressed his flagging career in a rendition of his recent single “Tru,” confessing that there’s been “no album lately. … (I) disappeared from the scene.”
He altered his image during his time out of the spotlight. Wearing a leather jacket, sunglasses and long hair corralled by a red bandana, Lloyd looked like a hardened biker. His striking voice, however, still resembles the engaging prepubescent squeak of the early work of Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson.
Lloyd made the most of the disappointingly stark format by acting as if he was the host of an informal dance party rather than a faded star reduced to singing karaoke versions of musty hits.
In addition to halfheartedly strumming a guitar while seated on a stool for a few minutes, he danced to vintage songs by LaBelle and Outkast, riffed on the Kendrick Lamar hit “Swimming Pools” and ostentatiously bared his sculpted torso to the strains of the Isley Brothers’ “Between the Sheets.”
He joked with fans about the commonly misheard lyrics of his chart-topping 2006 hit “You.” The chorus includes the phrase “she’s fine too,” but fans elicited an endearing smile from Lloyd by shouting “she’s five-two.”
J. Holiday, an outstanding vocalist from Washington, D.C., was far less charming during his opening set. He appended a reading of his signature hit “Bed” with a lewd stanza that wasn’t appreciated by many women in the audience.
Holiday also felt compelled to defend his low profile. He explained that “I’m alive. I’m not on drugs. I take care of my kids.” He proved that his voice remains powerful on an a cappella rendition of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends.”
The saddest component of the disheartening event was Holiday’s decision to conclude his perfunctory outing by dancing to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic.” The song is precisely the sort of infectious retro-funk song that made Holiday and Lloyd substantial stars 10 years ago, a level of success they are unlikely to reclaim.