Kicking off his 13-city tour behind his ninth solo LP in Minneapolis, the curiously but aptly named (for a nearly 50-year-old elder statesman of R&B who remains ageless) Babyface is still finding ways to stay hip with the kids while also gracefully segueing into an adult contemporary nostalgia act. It's almost better that his new album, Playlist, a collection of covers plus two originals, sticks to tracks so middle-of-the-road bland (Clapton's "Wonderful Tonight"?!) that he may rival recent karaoke master Rod Stewart for schmaltz; if the man continued to play tastemaker for another generation of R&B fans, we might have to start asking questions about possession by demons or some similar soul-bartering. Even Stevie fell off eventually. To hell with it—with a track record like 'Face's, tonight can be about unabashed wistfulness, where the beginnings of new jack swing rub elbows with Tender Lover and the LaFace legacy. With George Stanford.
Fri., Feb. 15, 8 p.m., 2008

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