K-Ci & Jo Jo: Toronto Massey Hall

K-ci and Jojo fail to ignite Toronto...

Tonight, Cedric ‘K-Ci’ Hailey and Joel ‘Jo-Jo’ Hailey own this country’s Royal Albert Hall. But in a city maniacal with their hockey team’s playoff fortunes, grabbing the less than capacity crowd will be the true yardstick.

Touring behind their third offering in a decade, ‘X’, the soulful duo made headlines recently when K-Ci was charged with exposing his “jo-jo” at a Los Angeles Christmas concert. From the outset, his bump and grind schtick still saturates the performance, but a bald burly bodyguard keeps him from getting into unwanted hot water. Nonetheless, it doesn’t prevent ladies crunching near the front, at times four deep, trying to pat or grab his crotch. ‘You Bring Me Up’> and ‘All The Things I Should Have Known’ are the initial pleasers, with the brothers hitting all the highs and lows. All this without the idiotic hand movements of some unmentioned divas like Mariah and Christina. Oops.

For all of the energy K-Ci exudes, the enthusiasm shown by the supporting musicians approaches that of near embalming. And, unfortunately, most of the crowd in the three tiers seems to follow suit. Still, this doesn’t prevent one lady from taking Jo-jo’s mic and belting out most of ‘One Last Time’. Jo-jo also plays the more demure, gentile role to a science, occasionally bending down to accept teddy bears, long hugs and some smooching.

Halfway through the set, the romantic vignettes and stage antics still haven’t won this traditionally apathetic concert audience over. Except for the immediate front rows, it’s lifeless. So he reverts to plan B, scaling into the crowd on the floor, then up to the second level, then onto the stack of speakers in a valiant attempt to find some life here. Ladies dangerously sway back over rails trying to touch it, er, him. Others look on, arms folded, with fear at the idea of possible participation.

‘Crazy’ and ‘What Am I Gonna Do’ mark the two hour, no encore homestretch. They’ve delivered the goods tonight, although some numbers were plowed through quickly. K-Ci is a sweaty mess hitting his set of congas unskillfully while holding refreshments with his mouth. As the show ends in a mish mash of wailing guitars, many make their way for the exits. Outside, horns honk and flags wave as the Maple Leafs won the hockey game. At least some people were enjoying themselves tonight.

Jason MacNeil