NEW YORK — Panties and roses thrown at their feet, the occasional fan who darts past security and makes it onstage: Performers generally keep entertaining audiences through it all. On Saturday, however, Ne-Yo was stopped in his tracks.
The man with the #1 album in the country, Because of You, was 15 minutes into his headlining show at Utopia's Paradise Theater in the Bronx when he told his DJ to end the music. Somehow, a woman had made her way onto a structure above the stage and had scaled it almost to the top, about a 35-foot drop to the floor. During "When You're Mad," the third song in Ne-Yo's set, security guards began to convene. Someone whispered into Ne-Yo's ear, and the R&B star looked up. He then signaled his DJ to be silent and addressed the fan.
"You gotta get down from there, ma, you might hurt yourself," he said calmly.
The woman quickly heeded his advice, climbed down to the balcony area and was escorted out by security.
"Moving right along ... " Ne-Yo said with a nervous laugh as soon as the woman was out of danger. "Damn!"
Back to our regularly scheduled program. Ne-Yo, dressed simply in a white V-neck T-shirt and jeans, put the focus on his songwriting during the show, reminding the fans that a couple of records they might know actually came from his pen.
A recording of Rihanna's "Unfaithful" began to play: "I don't wanna hurt him anymore/ I don't wanna take away his life/ I don't wanna be a murderer."
Then the music from Beyoncé's "Irreplaceable" kicked in, getting a louder sing-along reaction from the audience: "To the left, to the left."
Introducing the third record, Ne-Yo told the audience he was going to play something new, and the music to Fabolous' "Make Me Better" came on.
Ne-Yo actually started singing this one, though. "I'm a movement by myself, but I'm a force when we're together," he crooned. "Mami, I'm good all by myself/ But baby, you, you make me better/ You make me better."
Fabolous then made a surprise appearance, coming out to rap his lyrics. "You plus me, it equals better math/ Your boy a good look, but she my better half/ I'm already bossing, already flossing/ But why have the cake if it ain't got the sweet frosting?"
"So Sick" followed, with the Las Vegas native telling the crowd that he recently had a conversation with the woman he wrote his #1 hit about. He found out she just got engaged and has a little girl. "I'm happy for her," he said, adding that he forgot to ask her one important question, so he wrote her a letter. This transitioned into the next single off Because of You, "Do You" (see "Ne-Yo Gets Frisky With An 'Ex,' Avoids K-Fed Songs For Britney").
"First off, let me say congratulations," he sang. "Heard that you just had a baby girl/ If she looks anything like her mother/ She's the prettiest thing in the world/ Swear that I'm not tryin' to start no trouble/ Tell your fiance he can relax/ I'll leave you alone for good, I promise/ There's a question I just gotta ask/ I just wonder, do you ever think of me?"
After "Sexy Love," Ne-Yo told the audience that the great thing about going to his concerts is that you don't have to sweat through your new shirt or dress when you see him. Some songs are slow, so you can chill; some songs you can dance hard to; and there are others that only need a simple two-step.
This led into "Crazy," another track from Because of You. Jay-Z (not in attendance, by the way) declares on the record, "Ne-Yo's like young Michael." True to form, the Grammy winner vocally channeled Michael Jackson during the song, on which he talks about being so smitten with his lady that he writes her name on the wall a few thousand times. All he was missing was four brothers to back him up.
The finale, of course, was "Because of You," which surely had a few people dancing (and sweating) in the aisles. Ne-Yo's dancers — whose only other appearance was on "Sexy Love" — came out for support. Toward the end, Ne-Yo got into his own dance zone, stepping out of white-on-white Air Force 1s and doing a James Brown slide nearly halfway across the stage.
After the set, the show's promoters presented the main attraction with a giant cake with his face on it, congratulating him for his LP's #1 debut on the Billboard albums chart (see "Ne-Yo Ends Avril's Run To Debut In Billboard's Top Spot").
For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.