Radio station-sponsored concerts are a lot like an evening at the movies where all you see are trailers. That's not a bad thing as long as you remember going in not to expect anything with a beginning, middle and end, or anything remotely resembling a coherent plot.
That was certainly the case at Wango Tango on Saturday in Irvine, but it was suspended long enough in the right places to put this year's edition a cut above the typical radio concert plugfest.
The happy exceptions were relatively extended performances from Kanye West and Mary J. Blige that gave the rapturous capacity crowd enough time to become immersed in their music. And because both artists bring far more substance to their music than most of the hit-makers who turned up at the KIIS-FM (102.7) show, they brought some meat to what was otherwise a celebration of cotton candy. The impact was that much more concentrated in a four-hour evening at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, instead of the all-day stadium affair it's been in years past.
Blige was on the prowl in her 40-minute segment, the only act in the nine-performer lineup who sang with a full band behind her rather than over recorded tracks. She hopscotched among such early hits as "What's the 411?" and "My Life" to songs from her latest album, "The Breakthrough," most offering solace and support to anyone who's been through tough times, using the drama in her own life as a illustrative case in point.