July 12, 2003
Philips Arena - Atlanta


Black Eyed Peas:

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Funk/rap act Black Eyed Peas provided an upbeat, fun beginning for this concert. Consisting of a live old-school band, four rappers (three male and one female who also sang), the group hit it hard and delivered a show that clearly made a lot of new fans.

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“Pass The Joint” was probably not the most appropriate opening song for all the ten year olds in the audience, but it definitely showcased the Peas strong grooves that don’t sacrifice melody. “Shacking Up,” a song about how you “put your best foot forward” and hide the truth in a new relationship, was acted out and got mean at the end with the female front belting out some impressive notes as she slapped her companion around a bit.

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“Celebrate” had tons of energy and looked like a party onstage. In the middle of the twenty-minute set, the non-instrument bound members took turns break-dancing and flipping. The audience joined in by hopping.

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The current single off of their new CD Elephunk is called “Where’s The Love” and it emphasizes their Christian ideals. The song and set ended with the whole crowd dramatically waving along. Black Eyed Peas did more than hold its own and straddles a fine line between The Fugees and Sly & The Family Stone.

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Christina Aguilera:

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Christina Aguilera followed with an amazing show for someone who’s had hits for less than four years. This ingenuous diva made me think of a young Madonna. Seeing her live makes it clear that she has the songs and the voice to maintain her initial burst of stardom. First she set the tone with video footage. “LIES! SCANDAL! RUMORS!” flashed around her onscreen.  She opened with “Dirrty” backed by a Mad Max-like jungle gym setup and both male and female dancers. By the third song, she voiced her appreciation for her fans in true diva fashion, owning the stage with the confidence of a superstar. “No matter what, trust your own instinct,” she advised. To prove she was serious about carving out a different path for herself, she ignored huge hits like “I Turn To You” in favor of a new song she actually wrote. “The Voice Within” was slow, powerful and strong evidence that she can survive her teen fluff past. Some of her early hits were tackled, but they were completely rearranged and much more adventurous. The highlight of the set was “Genie in a Bottle” in a shortened form that managed to be both heavy and Middle Eastern. Fire and belly dancers surrounded Christina as she was strapped to a big bondage “X.” The flames flared while the dancers head banged on all fours. Even with all the gadgets and props around her, her talent (and especially her voice) managed to rise above the tricks. Later, she posed on a motorcycle that reared into a wheelie while sparks shot out the exhaust pipe. Different styles of music added variety to the show. There was Latin and Cuban dancing for “Infatuation” following a skit in which she chided a male dancer for playfully ripping off her skirt. Soon after, the real heart of the show was beating. Letting go of the effects and overkill show, she proved her musical chops. Aguilera stretched across a grand piano with a stage full of dry ice crooning a smoky rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Impossible.” This led into a jazzy section that showed off Christina’s unbelievable voice. Her extended notes on a pair of Etta James’ covers (“At Last” and “I Prefer You”) actually did justice to the originals and added a touch of class to an otherwise guilty pleasure, gaudy PG-13 show. Then it was back to good old marketable sleaze for “Lady Marmalade.” The obscene pole dancing of one of the male dancers caused my ten-year old nephew to comment, “That man needs to marry that pole!” “What A Girl Wants” followed and was capped by a confetti storm. Christina ended on a more somber note with “Beautiful,” wearing a t-shirt that proclaimed, “God Sees No Color.” After a hymn-like sing along, she thanked everyone and ran off while the song closed. For pure modern pop entertainment value, this is the hottest show on the road.

Amanda Stahl /

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