Jon B’s Soulful Birchmere Debut
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Jon B’s Soulful Birchmere Debut

Musical nostalgia and genuine soul were the themes of the night Sunday, September 9th, when Jon B. entertained a sold-out audience at The Birchmere Music Hall in Alexandria, VA.  Whenever I attend a concert, in particular, an R&B show one of the first things I look for is instruments on stage, as it’s a huge pet peeve for me when an artist does a track show. I was elated to see that a band would back Jon.

Jon and his band opened the show with an energetic cover of Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Brazilian Rhyme (Beijo). The song effortlessly displayed the talent of Jon’s band, as well as Jon’s ability to conduct with immaculate precision. From there, the groove didn’t stop as Jon jumped right into his 2001 single “Don’t Talk” from his vastly underrated Pleasure U Like album. I have seen Jon Live a few times, and in the past, he has usually opened the show with his debut song “Someone To Love,” so it was refreshing to see a changeup.

As this particular show was Jon’s debut at The Birchmere, he wanted to give the audience and his fans a show. Much to my surprise and the audience, Jon delivered on his promise.  Throughout his twenty-three-year career, Jon has released seven albums, but the mainstream somewhat ignores him. Jon took the audience on a musical journey! So it was great to rediscover some of the songs from my youth.

Bonafide Jon’s 1995 debut hit the charts when I was in seventh grade, and I was starting to notice the opposite sex. I could do nothing but smile when Jon performed two of my favorite songs from his debut “Mystery 4 Two” and “Isn’t Scary.”   Jon did not dip into album tracks from his second and most successful album Cool Relax that was fine, as he was able to focus more on songs from his third and fourth album.

 Pleasure U Like my favorite album Jon B, so naturally, my night was complete, hearing songs from this album performed LIVE for the first time. “Cocoa Brown,” “Lonely Girl,” and my personal favorite “Inside” all sounded great, highlighting Jon’s soulful voice, to the delight of the audience.

Jon also performed material from his fourth album Stronger Everyday.  Released in 2004, initially, I was not a big fan of Stronger Everyday, as I felt the album just lacked something. However, in recent years my musical tastes matured, and I like the album a bit more. Jon performed the reggae-inspired “Every Time,” which showed his ability to adjust to just about any musical genre. Jon closed out his ninety-minute show with his signature song “They Don’t Know,” to which the entire audience sang along word for word.  

The key to a great artist for me is what you bring to the stage with your live performance. Jon’s Birchmere show was my fourth time seeing Jon live, and at the age of 43, he shows no signs of slowing down. R&B artists young & old should take notes from Jon’s show when it comes to providing your best to your fans.


Final Grade A-

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