Charlie Wilson plays L.A. every year and every single time he brings the house down. From 2014-2018 Wilson played one to two nights at the Microsoft Theater and in 2018 performed at the Hollywood Bowl with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra conducted by Thomas Wilkins with the O’Jays opening. In 2019 Wilson performed at the Forum with Stephanie Mills and Patti LaBelle. With the Covid-19 Pandemic Wilson did not perform in 2020 and only four shows in 2021. Last year Wilson performed at the Crypto.com Arena with New Edition and Jodeci. Wilson finally returned to the Hollywood Bowl Wednesday night (7/12) with En Vogue.
En Vogue kicked off the show at 8 P.M. Once a four member group, En Vogue has been a trio since 2012 of co-founders Terry Ellis and Cindy Herron and Rhona Bennett who originally joined 20 years ago. Bennett replaced Amanda Cole after two years of being in the group who had come in when original member Maxine Jones. Bennett left in 2005 when the original group reunited to return again a year later then left when they reunited again for the 20th anniversary of the group and has once again been a member since 2012. The current lineup has released two albums together, Soul Flower and Electric Cafe. En Vogue’s set was just 30 minutes but was electrifying.
Their set began with “My Lovin (You’re Never Gonna Get It),” followed by “Whatta Man” which they recorded with Salt-N-Pepa, and then another smash hit “Free Your Mind.” En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa. performed “Whatta Man” together for the first time in 1994 at the VH1 Hip-Hop Honors. Last year En Vogue toured with Salt-N-Pepa and Rick Astley as part of New Kids On the Block’s Mixtape Tour. The year before the two groups would make a cameo in Coming 2 America. It was clear this would be a night for a number of sing-a-longs and their six song set also included “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “Hold On.” Last year En Vogue was part of season 7 of The Masked Singer.
After an intermission it was time for “Uncle Charlie” Wilson, the name given to him by Snoop Dogg. With Wilson’s major success as an artist, he has also had a few downfalls that he pulled through including prostate cancer, alcohol addiction, homelessness, and losing his brothers Robert and Ronnie. Wilson shares this with the audience and uses it to inspire his fans that they can stay positive through anything that gets in the way. From start to finish, Uncle Charlie keeps everyone on their feet and dancing throughout the night. Wilson made his entrance to “Party Train,” and the party kicked off. As always his dancers each had matching outfits of different colors. Just a month ago Wilson performed a set of five songs at the Greek Theater as part of their Juneteenth Celebration.
Wilson’s set continued with “Early In The Morning,” Snoop Dogg’s “Beautiful,” “Good Times (Everybody)”, and “Life of the Party.” The show wouldn’t be complete without a few Gap Band hits like “Burn Rubber (Why You Wanna Hurt Me),” “Yearning For Your Love,” and “Outstanding.” Wilson’s 90-minute set was one big dance party. Wilson, now 70, really is a living legend, a true icon of R&B/Soul/Funk icon. Wilson has been nominated for 13 Grammys and 11 NAACP Awards and is a Soul Train Icon Award Winner, BET Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, has been twice named Billboard's Number 1 Adult R&B Artist, and is the spokesman for the Prostate Cancer Foundation.