Set List Bonus: 2014 BET Experience
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Kiana Butler
If the BET Experience is a family friendly celebration of black entertainment, then the final night of the three-day extravaganza at Staples Center on June 29 was the grown-up and sexy cherry on top. The night began with recent GRAMMY nominees TGT, who provoked teenagelike screams from the mostly over 21 crowd. Comedian/host Bill Bellamy worked overtime to turn those screams into laughs with jokes about folks who poured into the arena late, most likely making their way from the nearby Nokia Theatre L.A. Live where the 2014 BET Awards had just wrapped.
Despite debuting a new song on the telecast a few hours earlier, Jennifer Hudson appeared fresh and ready to party. Sporting tight black pants, she kicked it up a notch with a fun set that included the upbeat "Pocketbook," "Spotlight" and "Think Like A Man," the latter of which featured a surprise appearance by fellow GRAMMY winner Ne-Yo. Hudson strutted onstage with a swagger some might not expect from the often mild-mannered performer.
"All I know how to do is bounce my shoulders," she joked after spotting a guy rolling his body in the aisle. Thankfully, Hudson's voice made up for what she lacked in the dance department. Her set ended with a spine-tingling execution of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." Midway through the Dreamgirls hit, she shouted, "I might've lost weight, but I ain't lost my voice." And no one disagreed, including the woman behind me who screamed with a thick New Orleans drawl, "She is singing to the gods, baby!"
Dressed head-to-toe in white, Trey Songz followed with hits such as the boastful "I Invented Sex" and unabashed "Neighbors Know My Name," which made the women swoon, especially when he took off his jacket and revealed a sweaty six-pack. The GRAMMY-nominated heartbreaker settled into "Dive In" before bringing out a string of surprise guest performers, including rapper Ty Dolla Sign, who made everyone get on their feet with his hit "Paranoid." Then came newcomer August Alsina with "I Luv This S***," which features Songz and Chris Brown. Brown appeared a few minutes later — receiving the loudest screams of the night — to perform "Loyal" with rapper Tyga. They all remained onstage to perform "Na Na" and when Songz shouted "put your hands in the air if you're loving tonight," every hand went up and stayed there until GRAMMY winner Mary J. Blige came and owned the rest of the night.
My first concert was a Blige show at age 13, but I was too young to truly understand what she was singing. Sporting a short white suit and honey blond hair, Blige made her way down a flight of stairs to share her world, and I was finally old enough to relate. Almost like a preacher in church she testified, including in her set classic cuts such as "Real Love," "You Remind Me" and "Reminisce." She also performed the new "Suitcase" and belted out crowd favorite "I'm Going Down," but it was when she launched into "Be Happy" that I could sense her saving souls. "All I really want is to be happy," she sang, and a sea of people closed their eyes and threw their hands in the air while singing with her, as if in worship.
There is no denying Blige is due all praise. But what struck me the most about the Queen of Hip-Hop Soul was how gracious she is. She said "thank you" after every song and it didn't strike me as ironic until she finished her final song of the night, "A Night To Remember." As we filed out of the arena I could sense everyone wanted to say, "No, Mary. Thank you, for a night we'll never forget."