It would seem the return of good, soulful music is on the horizon once more. On Sunday, Tony Lelo, J Vito, and 2E, better known as The Hamiltones shared their sultry and soulful voices with St. Louis at the Ready Room.
Kicking off the monthly concert series, “A Night of Soul Searching”, and glorious music were some open mic segments by local artists. With a commanding performance of Kelly Price’s breakthrough hit “Friend of Mine,” vocal powerhouse Tish Haynes Keys proved why she was a force to be reckoned with on NBC’s “The Voice.” She left such an impression that headliners The Hamiltones yielded their mic to Keys to chime in during their performance of Marvin Gaye’s quiet storm classic “Sexual Healing.”
Following her performance were Chocolate Thai, Music Unlimited, and other artists who gave crowd-pleasing performances of popular tracks. The crowd was also blessed with some raw and provocative comedic interludes that touched on sex and surviving in St. Louis, from comedian and St. Louis native, Darius Bradford who also acted as MC for the night.
Once the prelude performances concluded, the Hamiltones emerged onto stage full of energy and ready to give the crowd a show. The swagged out North Carolina singers were draped in clothing ranging from after five dapper to casual which seemingly appeared to coordinate with their individual personalities.
Starting out as background singers for Grammy-award nominated Anthony Hamilton, the now Grammy-nominated trio has followed in their leader’s footsteps and acquired quite the following with their infectious, acapella performances via social media—sometimes including Hamilton himself.
The Hamiltones showcased their perfect blend of velvet baritones and pristine falsettos with each cover song they performed. The dynamic threesome covered classic songs like “Rock Steady,” The Whispers, “Come and Talk To Me,” Jodeci, and After 7’s “Ready or Not,” into their set as they entertained the audience with a live version of voices they’d become familiar with from attending concerts with Hamilton and other digital videos.
Their effortless chemistry shined bright as their voices harmonized with each other—fusing each note together flawlessly. Though an R&B group, the country boys as they often called themselves added variances of gospel, funk, and blues into their set that mimicked a church revival as they brought the crowd to their feet.
The forty-five-minute set performed by the group and live band kept the crowd engaged and on their feet throughout the night. Teasing the audience with what looked to be the last song, the group went into more performances that had the crowd (mostly the ladies) eating out the palm of their musical hands.
Though not officially on tour, the group’s stage performance undoubtedly proved they were ready to step out from behind the shadows of being background singers. They also took the liberty to perform a snippet of their comedic and gospel rendition track, “Put Some Respeck On It,” made popular after Cash Money’s founder, Birdman appeared on “The Breakfast Club.”
After countless covers, they then introduced their new single, “Money Can’t Buy You Love,” featuring fellow North Carolinian Rico Barrino to the crowd. The tune reminiscent of the soulful sound they’ve become known for proved to be catchy as the crowd swayed along to the beat.
“We just want to let y’all hear our new single that’s out now everywhere,” J Vito told the crowd, as they segued into the single.
The group even managed to make the happy birthday song sound marvelous as they paid tribute to Angel, the show’s host who made the show extra special in honor of her birthday.
Wrapping up their set, the spirited threesome performed “Gotta Be Lovin’ Me,” a gospel, blues, funk, and R&B compilation that had the crowd on their feet—clapping and shouting.