It was R&B upstart versus R&B veterans when Regina Belle and the Whispers played two sold-out shows at the Universal Amphitheatre on Friday night. Opening act Belle has a wide-ranging voice that invites comparison to Patti LaBelle and Anita Baker. She's an attractive, mostly low-key performer who's new to the concert stage but shows great promise. The 24-year-old singer hit her stride toward the end of her set on a dramatic ballad, "After the Love Has Lost Its Shine." Once Belle really grows in confidence, she should have no trouble securing her niche as one of R&B's reigning divas.
The Whispers, an L.A.-based vocal quintet, showed the confidence that comes from 23 years on the concert circuit--and from recently scoring the first Top 10 hit of its career, the dance-floor single "Rock Steady." This group knows what it takes to woo and win over a crowd, particularly on other savvy soul teasers like "Just Gets Better With Time."
While everyone in this group pulls his weight, the two key members are debonair lead singer Wallace (Scotty) Scott and Nicholas Caldwell, composer of many of the group's hits--hits that in their boudoir intensity are often as explicit as anything written by Prince.