Upon walking into Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale Tuesday night, one immediately realized how unique the show would be based on the audience: Gossipy tweens with their reluctant parents, backpack wearing hip-hop-heads, and Generation Y couples.
When Atlanta’s B.o.B took the stage at 11 p.m. sharp, all of the above sang and danced along to one of hip-hop’s brightest young stars for a fiery 70 minutes.
Just 21-years-old, the musical savant born Bobby Ray Simmons commanded the venue like a grizzled veteran while rapping, singing and playing guitar. He was joined by his manager and DJ, B Rich, a drummer, a bassist, a guitarist, a keyboardist, and a pair each of backup singers and dancers.
While many fans seemed impatient for B.o.B to play his smash hits “Magic,” “Nothin’ On You,” and “Airplanes,” which he did towards the end of the show, he treated his die-hard supporters to a plethora of album cuts, mixtape staples and rarities.
The show opened with “I See Ya,” an iTunes bonus track for his debut album, B.o.B Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray. His band easily handled both the crunk songs (“Haterz Everywhere” and “Bet I,” which featured a guest appearance by opening act Playboy Tre) and the more musical tunes (“Satellite” and “Past My Shades”).
A mid-show set featured B.o.B playing both acoustic and steel guitars. He deftly handled both the gorgeous “Don’t Let Me Fall” and “Lovelier Than You,” perhaps one of the sweetest hip-hop love songs ever written.
B.o.B was loose and playful throughout: He ran into the crowd during a raucous take on “I’ll Be In The Sky,” joined in on his dancers’ choreography on “The Kids,” and attempted to drag South Florida-based music producer Jim Jonsin on stage. Jonsin, whose credits include Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop” and T.I.’s “Whatever You Like,” is also responsible for much of B.o.B’s early successes.
Inexplicably, his setlist omitted the country-tinged “No Man’s Land” and the haunting “Ghost In The Machine,” the only song to showcase him playing piano live. Both had been staples throughout the current Shootin’ For Stars Tour.
But in the end, that didn’t matter. By the time he closed the show with a cover of MGMT’s “Kids,” seemingly the entire venue was jumping and applauding pop music’s best freshman.
Up-and-coming Alabama rapper Yelawolf was initially received with a tepid reaction during his opening set, but he quickly won over fans in the pit with songs like “F--- You,” “Good To Go” and current single “Pop The Trunk.”
Other opening performers included B.o.B cohort Playboy Tre, who tackled songs like “Liquor Store Mascot,” and Miami band ¡MAYDAY!, which performed “I’ll Be Gone” from the upcoming album Stuck On An Island.
B.o.B performs at Revolution Live in Fort Lauderdale (photo by Zisko Apaza)