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Concert Reviews:
The Time Plays It "Wild And Loose" At The Fox
 

By GARY GRAFF
of the Oakland Press

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DETROIT -- Memories can be tricky. Sometimes things are not as good as we remember they were.

And sometimes, as was the case of The Time's performance Friday night (June 11) at the Fox Theatre, they're even better.

Preparing to release its first new music in 20 years, the original lineup of the iconic Minneapolis-formed group was in fine 'n' funky -- and fun -- form Friday, reminding fans that it was the band that always gave founder and mentor Prince a run for his money -- and, to some minds, blew him off the stage -- during the early '80s, both on stage and in the film "Purple Rain." Looking dapper in suits, fedoras and shades, the septet was indeed "Wild and Loose," but also tight and polished as it grooved through 90 minutes of past hits and favorites.

Moreso than the perfectly enjoyable Morris Day & the Time -- which the frontman leads with keyboardist Monte Moir and drummer Jellybean Johnson -- this edition of the group has a next-level kind of chemistry, particularly when guitarist Jesse Johnson brings his own brand of rock flavor to the mix. The understated choreography is only part of a deft kind of showmanship The Time delivers with comfortable precision, with Day -- always a winking dandy pulling a comb through his coif -- and "valet" Jerome Benton leading the deceptively highbrow brand of hijinks. Likening himself to a champagne bottle fresh out of the refrigerator, Day made sure the crowd understood that "Morris is not sweating. I'm condensating."

The Fox crowd, however, was happily sweating throughout the non-stop dance party as it sang along to "Get It Up," "Cool," "Blondie," "My Drawers," "The Walk" and "The Stick," all of which have aged well. Day's solo hit "Oak Tree" segued into The Time's 1990 "comeback" single "Jerk Out," while "Skillet" was a launch pad for a lengthy Jesse Johnson solo section. Benton and the band's crew brought more than two dozen women on stage for "Ice Cream Castles," then added some men to the mix for "The Bird" before finishing, appropriately enough, with "Jungle Love."

Keyboardist Jimmy "Jam" Harris, meanwhile, shared the best news of all, reminding the crowd that The Time was working on a new album and promising they'd hear something "in the next couple of months." Given the potency of the group's performance on Friday, that, er, time can't come too soon.

Teena Marie also contributed to the flashback, feel-good evening with a generous 80-minute opening set filled with the onetime Motown artist's '80s favorites such as "Behind the Groove," "Portuguese Love," "Lovergirl," "Deja Vu" and a cover of the Mary Jane Girls' "In My House." Marie also paid homage to her mentor, the late Rick James, delivering their hit duet "I'm a Sucker For Your Love" as well as a medley of James' "Give It To Me" and "You and I."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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