It was an intimate affair on April 9 in Kuala Lumpur as singer Brian McKnight sprinkled plenty of love in the air, just like a man deeply in love.
Presented by Lads Entertainment, the one-night-only An Evening With Brian Mcknight show at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur was simply enchanting. McKnight has been cranking out hits for the past 25 years and as host Adflin Shauki joked, youngsters in the audience born in the 1990s were probably created to his songs.
Yes, we all know he has no Grammy despite having 16 nominations but what is an award when your work can make babies, cure heartaches, celebrate romance and simply speaks volumes?
Smooth, charming and with the right dose of humility, McKnight commanded from the word go, right after local songstress Elvira Arul opened the show. Singing a selection of old and new songs, the 48-year-old McKnight was in his element, constantly interacting with the audience while basking in their love. The more he spoke, the more besotted they became.
McKnight considers himself a happy, contented man and the first few tunes such as Shoulda Coulda Woulda, The Only One For Me and his new single Forever, from the upcoming album Genesis (to be released on Aug 25), reflected this.
When he shifted gear to the heartbreak moments with creamy ballads, we saw the emotional depth the man is capable of. It was this raw, vulnerable, passionate straight-from-the-heart delivery that melted the crowd.
Perhaps the moment McKnight best displayed his talent was when he paid tribute to his favourite musicians. With fingers deftly tinkling on the keyboards, he did impressions of Nat King Cole (When I Fall In Love), Hall & Oates (Kiss On My List), Stevie Wonder (Overjoyed) and Michael Jackson (Rock With You).
“It’s not how much money these fellas made or how famous they were. I just wanted to make music like them,” said McKnight before launching to into One Last Cry, which had the audience singing along. When he held a long note, it sent the females into an ecstatic orbit.
The tenor showed us why he continues to tour with sell-out concerts. He has established himself with an enviable record of chart consistency since his eponymous debut album was released in 1992.
In addition to being a singer, songwriter and producer, McKnight is a multi-instrumentalist who plays the piano, guitar, bass, drums, percussions, trombone, tuba, flugelhorn and trumpet.
He gave Malaysians a glimpse of his talent that night, playing some of the instruments while displaying his vocal prowess and that uh, oh, knee-weakening falsettos he’s known for. Again, the audience were swept away. There was really nothing to dislike about his guy!
His ability to float his voice into quick melismas effortlessly shows why he still at the top of his game when other R&B artists from his generation have fizzled out.
No McKnight concert is complete without Back At One and yes, so it was back to his hit song that skyrocketed his solo career. Almost every concertgoer in the ballroom whipped out their phone to record this live version.
McKnight kept the show short, sweet and memorable, although one hour’s worth of live music did not seem enough. Thankfully, the singer returned to the stage to sing the fabulous Still as an encore.