Sean's pal Julie came along with us and until tonight I had forgotten we had front row seats. The venue is in the round and kind of small, so really there aren't any bad seats, but front row!?!?!!! Hella cool for practically any concert!
As I said, I'm nowhere near a huge fan of Toni Braxton, but I do have some of her stuff and I've jammed to her music in the past. The house was almost full, and pretty enthusiastic. Within moments of the 8 p.m. start time, Braxton took to the stage in front of the adoring crowd.
Braxton, who looked absolutely gorgeous, was accompanied by two of her sisters, both of whom many in the audience knew from their reality show Braxton Family Values. Almost immediately she delved into her signature R&B-style ballads and her voice was silky smooth. Many of the songs I didn't know, but the audience was eating it up and I do love R&B music anyway. As the show wore on, you could tell that Toni was feeding off the energy of the crowd. She interacted with individuals and even gave us a glance and a smile once or twice. It was cool!
Within the first few tunes, she was calling people up to the stage out of the audience. This one dude and chick really hammed it up for the crowd, joining in to sing with Braxton on You Mean the World to Me. It was an early highlight to the show, but also a warning of what was to come.
Not long after that song, she asked who in the audience was celebrating an anniversary. There were actually a few couples, each of whom she chatted with. Once she was done, she broke into Happy Anniversary to You, and it was cutesy, but what happened next was a mix of horror and exhilaration all at the same time!
As the next song, her 1993 #3 hit, Breathe Again, started to play, Braxton walked over to beckon all of the happy couples to join her on the stage. As they all gathered to dance with Toni, she looked like she wanted more. She walked around the perimeter of the stage until she came right in front of me and Sean and with her forefinger she beckoned us to join the happy couples in a slow dance.
In a mix of shock and horror, both he and I were vigorously shaking our heads, begging her with our eyes not to do this, but how could we refuse? Sean turned to me as we got up from our seats and said, "okay, let's play pretend," and we hit the stage. As we reached Toni's outstretched arms, a huge roar came from the crowd at seeing two guys up there to slow dance. I was mortified (and shaking).
For the next five minutes, or what seemed like an eternity, Sean and I danced, arm in arm, still shaking, as Toni and her sisters gave us big smiles serenading the happy couples. As the song went on, I couldn't wait for it to finish. Sean had handed Julie his phone to take pictures and I kept trying to remember to face her, but I forgot that the stage is like a turntable, moving around very slowly. At one point I looked to where I thought Julie was and she wasn't in her seat. That was when Sean reminded me about the stage. Oops!
As we returned to our seats, two women who were sitting behind us excitedly gave us pats on the shoulder. I guess we were mini-celebrities of the evening.
Julie did end up videotaping the entire thing, which was too big to send to us (stay tuned for that). We did manage to take one still from the experience, and of course, my good ole pal Dita had to notice that my tongue was sticking out in the frame (thanks bud!). Here's the pic:
Finally the song ended and still about twenty minutes later I was shaking and my legs were like jello. The rest of the show was great, featuring some more audience participation and all of her biggest hits, which included He Wasn't Man Enough, You're Makin' Me High, and the smash encore, Unbreak My Heart. In the end, it was a pretty entertaining show, but it was also a night neither Sean or I will never forget!
**In a funny side-note, Sean and I were recognized by quite a few people on our way out of the theater.
Ooh, you were the guys on stage with Toni!
Oh my God, you guys were so cute!
Is it really your anniversary?
Hehe! Now that part was fun!