Eric Benet – The Studio November 24, 2017

Anyone who has recorded with George Duke, my favourite R & B/jazz pianist who recently passed away, has to be someone special, and Eric Benet did not disappoint.

Last night the Auckland audience packed into a disappointing, airless venue but enjoyed the opening local act T J and his band. T J  sang with sublime harmonies, and the dynamic range and sound were never too loud, but so funky.

Eric Benet came onto the stage wearing a TLC  T- Shirt and dark glasses, stating he could feel the love and welcome from the most amazing airport greeting ever. He started with Chocolate Legs. Eric’s vocals and falsetto range incredible, he even sang about Kiwi Chocolate. The three part harmonies from his band members were smooth and impressive.

The venue was a problem as Eric had to repeatedly tell the sound technicians to turn all monitors off to stop the loud feedback, stating the audience have not come out for this. I was impressed with him for sorting this out right from the start. Sound does not have to be ear shatteringly loud to have a groove, to be funky and get everyone dancing.

Once the sound was sorted, Eric concentrated on his love songs including one of the most popular wedding songs for over 18 years Spend My Life With You then Sunshine from his new album. He talked about love, relationships, sustaining notes with ease. Eric took us away  to R & B heaven.

Eric gave a tribute to the great artists who have passed away recently – Maurice White from Earth Wind and Fire, Al Jarreau  also Natalie Cole and Prince. He then sang a Prince song just with piano How Come You Don’t Call Me. His version was sublime. His voice is blues with a soulful quality with clear tone. Eric has great gospel chords in his arrangements and his tribute to Prince was so tasteful, btw, Eric is married to Princes ex wife.

When he went onto Georgy Porgy the crowd loved it and the show ended with everyone dancing with Samba moves.

Eric Benet is a talented musician and just gets better with the years. It was a great evening and fantastic band. I hope he returns to a venue that would better suit him his band.

Maggie Gould

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