Soul is such an essential component to music that without it different songs can carry the same meaning. So it was no surprise that when “neo-soul” Carolina natives Angie Stone and Anthony Hamilton performed at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, they brought along enough soul to silence the harshest of critics.
The concert started when Japanese Sony recording artist Toshi performed material from his album titled Time to Share. One note and the whole crowd went crazy. It wasn’t his incredible voice but the fact that this was an Asian man singing soul music. With a two-song set, including his first single “Breaking Through,” Toshi’s voice, along with the harmonies provided by his backup singers, had the crowd in applause. One thing that stood out about Toshi was the fact that although he sung his songs in perfect English, when he spoke, his Japanese accent took over. It was just a little confusing, but overall, he performed a great set.
While Stone was clearly the headliner of the tour, with three solo albums and a 23-year career in the industry, she humbly opened up the show.
“I’m not a selfish person,” she told the audience, commenting on her decision to let Hamilton close the show.
Her set got off to a great start, performing the Jazzy Phe-produced single off her new album, Stone Love, titled “I Wanna Thank Ya.” With the crowd to its feet, Angie belted out numerous hits from her first two solo albums Black Diamond and Mahogany Soul, including “Wish I Didn’t Miss You,” “Brotha” and “No More Rain (In This Cloud).”
Stone’s voice was rich and raspy at the same time, which reminded one of the great gospel singers of our day. She even went preacher style when she spoke to the audience about the sympathy she had for the hurricane victims, which resulted in audience members shouting, “Hallelujah.”
She encouraged crowd participation in numerous segments of her show, which included the whole venue dancing according to Stone’s instructions and pitted the guys against the ladies to see who could sing the loudest. A standout of the show was when Stone showcased the members of her band. They transformed the interlude on her new album, “Touch It,” to an all-out full-length song, with each backup singer giving his or her vocal interpretation to the lyrics. With her intimate performance, Stone definitely connected with the audience, leaving the crowd ready and hyped for Hamilton’s performance.
Hamilton’s performance was a long time in the making. Having been signed and dropped from numerous labels, Hamilton was finally able to share his music from his So So Def debut album Comin’ From Where I’m From. The excitement Hamilton had with finally performing his material showed through his endless dancing. Hamilton got serious when he broke into “Lucille,” a song about battered and abused women he grew up around during his childhood.
While these two artists combined have sold less than five million records from four studio solo albums, they have mastered the art of making music of substance. If they proved anything that night, it was that quality is better than quantity.
Marcus Washington can be contacted at