Bestselling R&B-pop trio TLC kicked off the second leg of their first-ever headlining tour Friday at the packed Pond, and the Grammy-nominated ladies were at the center of an exciting evening of singing and dancing that delivered all of their hit songs in charming fashion, and which proved conclusively that these three are far more impressive performing together than they are separately.
The 105-minute production opened, amid a blaze of rainbow-colored lighting, with a message of fan appreciation from the same computerized female voice that narrates the group’s multi-platinum “FanMail” (LaFace/Arista) album.
While digital renditions of the group were projected on a giant overhead screen, the Atlanta-based threesome (Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas) were lifted on hydraulic boosts from beneath the stage, as a troup of athletic dancers raced around them.
The ambitious show was comprised of a series of segments featuring songs from each of TLC’s three smash albums, as well as a midshow portion that gave each of the women a chance to play solo star — turns that none of them executed particularly well.
After a couple more warmup tunes from “FanMail,” including the jumping club jam “Silly Ho,” the trio made the first of what would be many costume changes (into street gear this time), and then pushed the show into overdrive with a tight medley of songs from their 1992 debut “Oooooooohhh! On the TLC Tip.”
The vocals of the three stars — who each wore headset microphones and ran around as they sang — were blended on songs such as “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” with what sounded like discreet amounts of prerecording and sampling for a full-bodied mix that carried well in the large arena.
Another change of clothes signaled a move to 1994 and the 10-million selling “CrazySexyCool” album, from which the hits “Creep” and ballad “Red Light Special” were taken. The video screen above the action showed a non-stop collage of live-action, old video footage and computer animation during these and many of the songs.
TLC’s high-energy show lost much of its momentum midway through when the three members indulged in too-long solo sets. Left Eye juggled (poorly), played piano and burned some rope; Chilli sang “Miss U So Much” to a blushing male member of the audience; and T-Boz, dressed in a man’s suit, did a Janet Jackson dance and then asked the guys what they would do if she was their girlfriend.
Once the group was whole again, considerable attention was finally paid to the production-heavy music on “FanMail” (Grammy-nominated for album of the year, and with everyone in the house now good and loose, the show took on the feel of a giant latenight club.
A couple dozen audience members were on stage and dancing during the recent hit “UnPretty,” while the playful “I’m Good At Being Bad” featured a distinctive keyboard sample from the WAR song “Slippin’ Into Darkness.”
The show closed with two of TLC’s biggest songs, 1995’s anthemic “Waterfalls,” and an extended version during the encore of “No Scrubs,” the group’s 1999 hit about no-bargain bachelors that earned them two of their eight total Grammy noms.