R Kelly Got His Crotch Grabbed 26 Times and Performed 50 Songs At The Fox Theatre

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Todd Owyoung

R. Kelly announces a segment called "R. Kelly Karaoke." The crew brings six microphones on stands out and faces them toward the seats. Kelly sits down at the miniature "Singles Bar" set up on the side of the stage, lights a cigar, and sips a cocktail. Meanwhile, "R. Kelly Karaoke" is essentially Kelly hanging out listening to clips of the actual recordings of his songs while the audience haphazardly sings along. One song in the set is "Bump N Grind," a song he has already performed twice this evening.

R. Kelly, only a few minutes after the most intense session of having his junk rubbed like it was a good luck charm, sings "I Wish" as a tribute to his mom. The song breaks down and Kelly dramatically sings "I wish...I could play music until Jesus comes back" and "I wish...my kids would listen to me when I tell them to get off the damn phone" and "I wish...I could get a hug, like a big momma hug right now" and "I wish...Obama could be president forever. We did it again, y'all!"

R. Kelly has one completely serious moment with "I Believe I Can Fly." The song is as schmaltzy as it gets, but I am shocked at its ability to move so many members of the audience. The power was infectious, even if all I could think of was Space Jam. But along with the quickfire opening segment and the random Italian traditional hymn, "Fly" was impressive on a human level. I find it easy to be distracted by his scandals, his idiosyncrasies, and his frequent decision to rhyme a word with that same word, but behind all that baggage, R. Kelly has a voice that could make an angel jealous. Or, could make a normally sane woman want to rub his crotch in front of three thousand people.

Todd Owyoung

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: I firmly believe that R. Kelly is advanced, that "Freaky In Da Club" should have been a massive hit, and that the Hood Internet's mashup of "I'm A Flirt" with Broken Social Scene's "Shorelines" trumps the original.

Overheard: The woman sitting next to me said, "Not for my hundred dollars you ain't done" after Kelly's mid-set fakeout and, "I didn't come here for no opera or some shit" after his hymn. I also spied her texting "Too many old ass people here."

Setlist: -Huff & Puff -Body Calling -TP2 -Bump N Grind -Freaky In The Club -Hotel -That's That -Fucking You Tonight -Strip For You -So Sexy -Gigolo -Snake -Fiesta Remix -I'm A Flirt -Ignition Remix -Go Getta -Wonderful -Number One -Good Sex -Slow Wind -R&B Thug -Half On A Baby -Sex In The Kitchen -Down Low -Real Talk -12 Play -Slow Dance (Hey Mr. DJ) -Bump N Grind -Feelin' On Yo Booty -Booga/Hymn -Love's In Your Face -Green Light -Kel's Karaoke -Bump N Grind -Honey Love -Dedicated -I Can't Sleep Baby -Just Like That -She's Got That Vibe -Forever -I Don't Mean It -Get Up On A Room -Contagious -It Seems Like You're Ready -When A Woman's Fed Up -When A Man Lies -I Wish -Heaven, I Need A Hug -I Believe I Can Fly Encore -When A Woman Loves -Step In The Name Of Love

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