Tireless R&B singer Charlie Wilson still outstanding 

click to enlarge R&B great Charlie ( "Uncle Charlie") Wilson is touring to promote his 2015 album "Forever Charlie." - COURTESY M2M CONSTRUCTION
  • R&B great Charlie ( "Uncle Charlie") Wilson is touring to promote his 2015 album "Forever Charlie."
At 62, R&B singer Charlie Wilson – a prostate cancer survivor in the middle of a hot career comeback – is showing no signs of slowing down.

Actually, he’s speeding up. The former Gap Band leader rocked his “Forever Charlie” tour at the Oracle Arena in Oakland on Friday with stamina surpassing that of Usher and his other, younger friends and contemporaries.

His voice in great shape and dancing with slick moves reminiscent of the Jackson 5, he invited the crowd on the “Party Train” to start, and did not slow down (for anything except a few wardrobe changes, including a jacket with LED lights) for nearly two hours.

His funky Gap Band-era oldies (“Burn Rubber [Why You Wanna Hurt Me]," “Early in the Morning”) perfectly melded with later hit “urban contemporary” ballads (“You Are,” “I Wanna Be Your Man”).

And, in the rare case of a performer who’s been around as long as Wilson (aka "Uncle Charlie") upbeat new songs from his great 2015 album “Forever Charlie” – “Touched by an Angel,” “Goodnight Kisses” and “Birthday Dress” – blended seamlessly into the mix.

With four “Solid Gold”-style backup dancers who refreshingly looked like showgirls rather than sex workers, the concert had an undeniably retro feel, and a classy focus on romance.

A couple from the audience came onstage for a marriage proposal, and during “Charlie, Last Name Wilson,” the singer told each man in the audience who came with a beautiful woman to stand up. They all did. (They didn’t do as well during the singalong portion when asked to insert their own name into the tune.)

A killer rendition of 2009 Grammy-nominated hit “There Goes My Baby” featured awesome saxophone and guitar solos. Then Wilson slowed things down for the gospel-tinged “My God is Amazing” and “If I Believe.”

Quiet-storm 1980s hits “Outstanding” and “Yearning for Your Love” were tailor-made for the middle-aged fans, who roared when Wilson queried if they were old-school.

Opening acts Joe and KEM were the perfect complement to Wilson in the hip-hop-free evening. Perhaps soul stylist KEM summed up everyone’s sentiments best when he said, “R&B - black music - is a very serious thing. Feel the love in this place.”

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Leslie Katz

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