“Real dreams do come true” sings En Vogue in their 1992 hit “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.” The vocal group helped prove that the dream of the ’90s is alive and well in the form of the Hot Summer Nights Tour. Headlined by the era’s hit-makers TLC and Shaggy – with support from En Vogue and the post-nineties crooner Sean Kingston – the tour’s June 23 stop in Tinley Park was teeming with nostalgia and love shared by performers who are better than ever 30 years after first dominating the radio waves.
Kingston kicked off the night with a set tailor-made for all the “Beautiful Girls” in the crowd. After a short break, En Vogue stepped on to the stage wearing the shimmering shades of a golden sunset, quickly wowing everyone from the front row to the back of the lawn with vocals that can only be described as perfect. Terry Ellis, Cindy Herron and Rhona Bennett didn’t hold back on the hits opening their show with the fan favorite “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It).”
Later, En Vogue treated fans to a melodic rendition of “Whatta Man” with Ellis, Herron, and Bennett taking turns singing the verses made famous by Salt-N-Pepa. The group frequently interacted with the crowd, shouting out all the “party people” enjoying hits like the show-stopping “Don’t Let Go (Love)” and “Free Your Mind,” which provoked literal shrieks of happiness from the crowd.
Prior to closing out their set with “Hold On” – and its impossibly good a capella intro of “Who’s Lovin’ You” – Ellis shared the group’s gratitude for fans new and old.
“We just want to take a quick second, to express our heartfelt appreciation for each and every one of you. For all the love – the love, the love, the love – and support that you guys have been just raining down on us for 33 years,” Ellis said. “We realize that it’s because of you that we’re able to keep doing what we do. It’s been a long time and we’re very very grateful for the opportunity. So, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
TLC – who’ve been making a stop in Tinley Park a biannual tradition in recent years – also took time out to share their appreciation with “day one” fans as well as those who’ve joined in “along the way.” Throughout the night, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas honored the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes by turning up her raps while leading dance breaks with the TLC dancers on “What About Your Friends” and “Waterfalls.” Elsewhere, love was in the air during the sultry CrazySexyCool hits “Red Light Special” and “Creep.”
One of the most touching moments of the show came during Watkins’ tender intro to the FanMail ballad “Unpretty.”
“Now this next song we’re about to sing is a song that’s near and dear to my heart because I wrote it from my heart. I wrote this song many years ago, but my words stand true to this day especially with social media and people trying to be perfect, because nobody’s perfect,” Watkins said encouraging everyone who knew the words to sing along.
Couples cuddled, friends hugged, and strangers sang as one as TLC’s time led right into a fun-filled closing set from Shaggy. Besides his knack for creating irresistible hits like “It Wasn’t Me” and “Luv Me, Luv Me,” the Jamaican superstar’s superpower is his ability to infuse humor into the sexiest of songs. From his on-beat pelvic thrusts during “Boombastic” to his joyful cover of “In the Summertime,” Shaggy proved yet again that the way to someone’s heart is through their smile.
Relive all the love from the Hot Summer Nights Tour with the photo gallery below and click here to pick-up tickets to future tour dates. More information on upcoming shows at the Credit Union 1 Amphitheatre can be found at LiveNation.com.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)