Before this past Sunday night, I had only seen Boyz II Men one time, and it was on July 4, 2011, when they performed in front of over 100,000 people on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. I never expected the second to be so soon, or in the United Kingdom. The legendary R&B group from the City of Brotherly Love brought their “little East-Coast swing” all the way to Bristol, a city 90 minutes away from the center of London, for a sold-out show in front of 1,650 people at the O2 Academy.
While studying abroad in London, I am interning once a week with a public relations firm called Showcase PR. During the first week on the job, I was asked if I wanted to help work the Boyz II Men concert, an offer I couldn’t turn down. So on Sunday I hopped in the “back seat” of my boss’s Audi TT, used multiple travel neck pillows to try and get comfortable (it didn’t work), and drove out to Bristol for the show. Because I was working the guest list at the door, I didn’t have the opportunity to see the opening acts. But at 9 p.m., I went inside to watch my fellow Philadelphians tear up the stage in Bristol, as well as any boy band in their late 30s and early 40s could.
During every song the three guys sang their hearts out and received the love from the fans. The atmosphere was unlike any other show I had ever attended. Everyone in the crowd, even those who were probably babies when many of the songs being performed were released, sang every word of each song and acted as background singers all night. You could tell from the beginning that Shawn Stockman, Wanya Morris and Nathan Morris (no relation) were embracing and impressed with their audience. Throughout the set, each member of the group would speak about how much they appreciated the fans and how they couldn’t have made it for over 20 years in the music industry without them.
As the guys ran through their hit records, including “One Bended Knee” and “4 Seasons of Loneliness,” they stopped before singing another one in particular. Wanya Morris stepped forward and shared a laugh with the fans when he informed them that it was possible they were conceived to the next song they were going to perform. As they went into “I’ll Make Love To You,” all three members of the group grabbed a bundle of red roses and handed them out to shrieking women of all ages in the crowd. Other notable moments included their performance of “End of the Road,” one of my personal favorites, and of course their biggest single to date, which also happened to be their debut, “Motownphilly,” which was the final song of the night.
In total, the set lasted a little over an hour and featured both old classics and even a few new songs the group has recorded over the recent years. It’s hard to imagine that Boyz II Men are still selling out shows, albeit at a small venue, 21 years after their start. Clearly the three talents have earned it, as they put on an incredible and memorable performance in the United Kingdom.