The catchiest song on Wayne Brady’s debut album was used as the concert opener Monday at the House of Blues, and that attention-grabber alerted the crowd that this was to be a smooth, adult R&B get-together and not an exported version of his solid Las Vegas show. “Back in the Day,” an exuberant and playful shout-out to the trends and music of the 1980s, front-loaded this record-release celebration a bit too heavily; as the evening progressed and the ballads and mid-tempo numbers piled up, there was nothing fun and frothy like “Back in the Day” to turn the mood more upbeat.
Brady’s album “A Long Time Coming” (Peak) is professional and slick yet highly derivative, its touch points coming from “Sexual Healing,” the first edition of New Edition, “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and Mom and Dad’s scratched-up copy of “Talking Book.” For the stage show to work — i.e., to frame the fair-to-middling material with some razzle-dazzle and humor — Brady needs to leap into jack-of-all-trades mode, the style that made him so engaging in his two TV shows and has led to his success in Vegas.
He limits the sharp choreography to the first two numbers, which helps the energy skyrocket but stymies the rest of the show, and instead of light-hearted humor between songs, he focuses on the sentimental and the moral high ground. The sound mix was doing Brady’s sweetly intoxicating voice no favors — a synthesizer steamrolled other instruments, and Phillip Beale’s drumming never quite sat in the pocket to establish a groove. His covers were a bit tepid, too: The ballad reading of the Beatles’ “Can’t Buy Me Love” felt lifeless, and Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was, thankfully, not oversung.