Words Annabel McLeod
Ask gig-goers for their favourite Brian McKnight moment at London's Jazz Cafe and you'll hear a range of responses. Some would rightfully rave about the US R&B star's cover arrangements - a funked up version of Queen's Another One Bites The Dust, a stripped back take on Marvin Gaye's Sexual Healing, Stevie Wonder's Overjoyed (complete with trademark head swing) and a flawless rendition of Prince's Little Red Corvette. Some would claim they were floored when he took his leather jacket off, revealing a Superman-motif B t-shirt and ripped arms. While other devotees would revel in tracks from 1999's multi-platinum album Back At One including 6, 8, 12 and its title track. For me, it was the moment he booted a girl off the stage, because she was casually speaking to a friend just a Mister McKnight was about to begin his romantic ballad Cherish. Rude eh? She had to leave her recently gifted red roses behind too.
McKnight proved himself as a virtuosic performer at this intimate London leg of his European tour - jumping effortlessly between the bass, acoustic guitar and the keys (he can play nine instruments, apparently). In a predominantly unplugged performance, he offered comedic passes on love and dating, flirtatious audience banter and even opened the floor to requests from his back catalogue (his 15th studio album is out soon). And in a musical climate that's still head over heels for auto tune and dance, it was refreshing to hear pitch perfect vocals - he croons high, he croons low and he serenades in falsetto too. Just don't dare chat while he's doing it.