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Concert Reviews:
Black Eyed Peas Party At The Palace
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

AUBURN HILLS -- The Black Eyed Peas had all the ammunition they needed for a good party on Tuesday night (March 9) at the Palace.

The quartet's latest album, "The E.N.D.," is a chart-topping smash that's spun off three No. 1 singles -- including "Imma Be," which is currently atop the Billboard Hot 100. It came to town armed with an arena-filling stage full of clever special effects and bass-in-your-face sound -- and had a surprise guest appearance by Kid Rock to boot.

And, in the end, it was a good party -- but not necessarily a great one.

"The E.N.D." may stand for "The Energy Never Dies," but it certainly wavered throughout the Peas' episodic two-hour performance. There were plenty of moments that flirted with transcendence, including the flannel-shirted and fedoraed Rock's romp through his hit "All Summer Long," but the show did not maintain the propulsive, slamming energy you'd expect from the Peas at this peak juncture of what's already a tremendously successful career.

Reasons? Some of the evening's momentum was sapped by having two opening acts -- a cheerfully cheesy set of libidinous "Party Rock" by LMFAO (a son and grandson of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr.) and a rote runthrough by rapper Ludacris. When the Peas finally emerged from their pod at 9:15, more than a few of the 15,000 of the school-night fans at the Palace were peeking at their watches.

The Peas own performance, meanwhile, was problematic though mostly positive. The group is blessed with two bona fide opening numbers -- the 2004 hit "Let's Get it Started" and the soaring "I Gotta Feeling" from "The E.N.D.;" it went with the former, to good effect as lasers illuminated the arena and a robotic, digitized face on the video screen welcomed fans to the experience. But the first encore, "Boom Boom Pow," would really have been the ticket for lift-off with its slamming meter and eye-catching ensemble choreography.

There was also a sense early in the concert that the Peas were conserving their collective energy as they vamped through "Rock That Body," "Meet Me Halfway," "Don't Phunk With My Heart," "Imma Be" and "My Humps" -- often moving en masse along a ramp that took the group to the middle of the Palace floor. The individual Peas' solo spots also checked the momentum, though vocalist Fergie had her own hits ("Fergalicious," "Glamorous" and "Big Girls Don't Cry") and Taboo's "ride" over the crowd on an airborne motorcycle was short enough to feel clever.

Group leader will.i.am, meanwhile, impressed with a freestyle rap segment that incorporated fans' text messages but nullified that with an inconsequential 15-minute DJ set that probably did more for the souvenir stands than the dance floor.

"All Summer Long" woke things up a bit (though it meant the Peas' had to cut out "Now Generation" and a medley of "Showdown," "Party All the Time" and "Out of My Head"), while the surf-styled "Pump It" was as fierce as the Peas should have been throughout the night. And while "Where is the Love" and "I Got a Feeling" -- which closed the main set and encore, respectively -- were crowd pleasers, they were stretched to flow-killing lengths and couldn't keep fans from streaming out during both songs.

The Peas did do a very good job throughout the night of giving Detroit its props, with will.i.am and Taboo both name-checking everything from Motown to Eminem to more underground fare such as Slum Village and the late J. Dilla. Next time through, however the greatest respect would be a re-tooled show that hits the potential the Peas -- and their music -- merit.



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