Music industry fests like the College Music Journel regularly mix a few reunions into their line-up, but usually it’s alt-rock icons like Dinosaur Jr., which was why the surprisingly unheralded return of ’90s R&B legends En Vogue was such a shocker. Could this be the real En Vogue? The four Oakland ladies who ran the pop charts with a series of sassy smashes and then simply disappeared? Why yes, it could. And damn, can they still sing.
But if the press generally ignored En Vogue’s return, their fans did not, selling out midtown mainstay B.B. King’s to witness what felt like a trial run for a full-on tour. This was an early show, over and done by 9PM on Friday night (Oct. 21) in New York City, which, incidentally, was when the CMJ sked said it would start — and there wasn’t even a live band.
Dawn Robinson, Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis stood in a line with an unseen backing-track operator pressing play behind them, but somehow that didn’t detract from the show. After all, nobody was there to see a horn player; they wanted to hear these girls’ own pipes.