It was Fergie’s birthday Saturday night, and the crowd at the Pepsi Center threw her a dance party.
The vocalist (a.k.a. Stacy Ferguson) and the rest of the Black Eyed Peas were the ones handing out the gifts, though, and if the musical goodies came wrapped in all the trappings of overly commercialized pop, well, the sweating, jumping, gyrating, bumping, fist-pumping people were clearly happy to be on the receiving end.
Leading off with “Let’s Get It Started” and running through most of their hits, the BEPs represented on most of the songs, although the sound was so loud at first it was almost painful. There were no surprises, but that’s OK — we were there to get our groove on, and groove we did.
Occasionally, the songs from the set list, which was an exact repeat of the set list from the show Wednesday night in Kansas City, Mo. – and probably every show they’re doing on this tour for the platinum “The E.N.D.” – seemed a tad forced, the band sometimes seemingly just going through the motions. As in, “insert city name here.”
But it never seemed as though the ever-moving audience cared. They were getting down. The Black Eyed Peas’ music has a great beat, and you can not only dance to it, you can work out, have sex, mow the lawn, and elect a president to it.
Fergie is only 35, but she did have a bit of a senior moment when she accidentally sang a stanza of “Glamorous” twice, and that’s when she actually revealed her birthday to the audience, and it’s also when the concert got real for the first time. She abandoned the song and then launched into “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” which just brought us back to the set list, although the audience was so forgiving it sang along.
Will.i.am (a.k.a. William Adams) did his freestyle rap thing that allowed concertgoers to text messages that appeared on LCD screens behind the stage, a gimmick that never fails to impress (he did it on the Grammys), and when the consummate showman played DJ later in the show, the already writhing crowd became even more heated, throwing its fists up in the air for jams that made the crowd roar, including Flo Rida’s “In the Ayer,” Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Other song highlights included “Meet Me Halfway,” “Imma Be,” and “Pump It,” but a few were simply lackluster. “My Humps” was flat, and Fergie sounded as though she could hardly bring herself to get through it. “Bebot” looked and sounded like something from a high school musical, with the band members flailing their arms around as though they had been given the assignment as a punishment.
But when the band threw out their big, hook-filled hits, they fed off the crowd and re-energized, sending out huge vibes that sent everyone into a dancing frenzy – which is why we pay to see the BEPs.
Taboo trotted out his crazy choreographed moves, and the show was a futuristic funhouse of robot dancers that looked like a cross between stereo speakers and Transformers with chess piece heads, interspersed with projections of computer circuitry and planets. Nice move, bringing a runway that put apl.d.ap and Taboo out into the floor here and there, which helped to make the audience feel as though it was a part of the show.
And Fergie, girl, you go. We all wish we could look and move so good at 35.
Kyle Wagner is a live music enthusiast and the travel editor at The Denver Post.
John Leyba is a Denver Post photojournalist and regular contributor to Reverb.